“ Teach me your way, O LORD; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.” Psalm 27:11,
So, let’s say you are on a journey and you suddenly realize that it is taking longer than you thought, it is more expensive than you had planned and the natives are restless. As you analyze your situation, a person you do not know stops and asks you what you are doing and so you tell him about your situation. After listening intently, he smiles an irritating but knowing smile and says, “well, if you want to reach your destination, you have three things to think about.” Then he points toward your left and asks what you see.
There, on the left is a sign, and so you acknowledge it. “That’s right,” the stranger replies. “Is that what you have been following?” You respond that you have been reading the signs and somehow have gotten lost. Next, he reaches in his pocket and asks if you recognize a certain little black container. You take it, open it up and find that it is a compass. By now you are getting agitated, but you smile and say that you know what a compass is and how it works.
Then he stands to leave and so you stop him and ask how all of this is going to help at all. He replies that you now have signs and a compass, and do you need anything else. Irritated to the point of distraction you tell him that you don’t recognize where you are and the signs do not help and the compass is useless because it is to general. “Ah,” says the man, “you need a map.”
“Well, of course I need a map, you quip.” So he reaches for his inside coat pocket and pulls out a folded paper and hands it to you.
Nervously, you take it and immediately start to unfold it only to find that it is blank. Now you’re all worked up but before you can give him a piece of your mind, he explains. “This is my land. I know where you are and where you want to go, but it would make no sense to just tell you. Instead, I need to show you.” With that, he sits down and pats the ground beside him and waits for you to sit. That is the last thing you want to do, but you comply. Once you are seated he smiles at you and begins talking about random things and engaging you in conversation all the while drawing a map on the piece of paper. Eventually, you calm down as he continues to draw and before long, you realize that you are really enjoying the conversation and the stranger. Finally, he stops drawing and hands you the map.
You look at it and notice that it is incomplete but there is enough detail to show you where you are and where you want to be. Now you can also see how you got lost and where you went off the main road. You feel a little dumb, and he puts his hand on your shoulder and smiles, and says, “Don’t take yourself so seriously; everybody gets turned around out here.”
“What about the rest of the detail,” you ask.
“Oh, that’s for the next time you get lost. Take this map and use your compass and if you get turned around again, just call this number and I will meet you and we can sit here and talk and I will fill it in for you. Or, if you want, we can plan to meet at the beginning of each day of your journey, and we can just plan to spend time together and the map will fill in all by itself, day-by-day.”
Now, you don’t know what to say, but the thought of signs occurs to you. “Ok, so can’t I just follow the signs?”
“ No,” he replies, “those are signs from other travelers; they won’t work for you because those people came from different directions. You only see them because your paths crossed. You see, travelers leave signs as they find their way they are not necessarily meant to be followed. You are leaving signs as well, but you can’t go back and follow them either, because they only show where you’ve come from.”
“Well can’t you just fill this map in for me now,” you ask, and then you realize how selfish the request is.
You were wanting a destination and he was wanting a relationship, and by simply spending time with this land owner, your understanding of the situation became so much clearer.