Bonus: Read how members and friends of Christ-St. Paul's are experiencing today's devotion.
My name is Bonnie Rackley, and Christ-St. Paul's has been my home for many years. This is my story about getting lost.
Every week I make a five-hour round trip journey to Aiken, SC to visit my sister who has Parkinson’s disease. I make this trip to capture every minute of precious time we have left before the dementia that is wiping away her life memories completely erases me. Sometimes she knows I am her sister and sometimes she thinks I am her daughter. But that is okay. At least I am still somebody to her.
I don’t mind the trip. In fact, traveling the backroads is a peaceful time for reflection. And the scenery is beautiful: farmer’s fields that are sometimes full of corn, or soy beans, or lately white acres of cotton. The woods are full of trees glowing green in the summer and shining red and orange and yellow in the fall. And for much of the journey, I am the only car on these deserted roads.
I avoid the Interstate at all cost - too many trucks and Nascar driver wannabees. But one must know the way when traveling the backroads, as I found out the hard way. I should have followed the advice I always give my daughters: “Don’t rely on that GPS on your phone. Look at a map first and have some idea where you are headed.” But on my second 'back road' trip, I did exactly what I tell them not to do. I decided to try a different route, one that my GPS assured me was the shortest. So, I plugged my destination into the phone and took off, confident that if I turned down the wrong road, I would be instructed to “make a u-turn when possible” and be back on my merry way.
This logic would have worked just fine if I had not lost my signal about 30 minutes into my trip. In trying to get back to the GPS, I completely lost my stored route and had no signal to access any maps or even make a phone call for that matter. I kept driving, certain I would recognize something from the one trip I had taken before, but as I encountered one unfamiliar intersection after another, I began to panic. And I got mad. I was angry at myself for not having a map, angry at AT&T because I had no signal, angry even at my sister for being so sick that I felt compelled to make these journeys. When the tears began to fall, I knew it was time to pull over and talk to God. I was somewhere in the woods between Hollywood and Aiken and I hadn’t seen a store or gas station for miles. So, I pulled over into a small driveway that led to a freshly plowed field. There, looking out over the field I let the tears empty themselves out and asked God to forgive me for my anger and to help me literally find my way. And the God of hope did just that. I made a right-hand turn at the next intersection and within five miles I found a gas station and a signal.
As I travel the path to the 'stable and beyond' this Advent, I will strive to remember Jeremiah’s words: “I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.” May we all seek God’s directions in our Advent journey this year.