Saturday, September 20, 2008

Throwing out the map

I had one of those mornings where I just needed God to show up so badly. Ok, it's really been one of those weeks, but it brought me to my knees this morning. I was definitely tired of fighting. I found myself back in bed after being up for a couple hours this morning, just sobbing into my pillow, praying to just fall asleep so it would all go away. (Or just be shoved aside, never to really be dealt with.) I was praying for God to show up. Praying for Him to fix things. To fix the brakes on my car. To fix the whole loving situation/place to be at "home" thing by making the real estate agent call back finally. To just let me go to sleep.

He wasn't having any of it. At least He wasn't having my plans, because He had his own (surprise, surprise!).

Now let's just get something straight. I am by no means what you'd call a nature girl. I really don't like the woods or being too far from civilization. I want to be able to get a Diet Coke whenever I want one. I want to be able to turn on the radio and sing or scream or cry with it. Stick with me, this is going somewhere.

As I was laying in my bed, not falling asleep, the car still a mess, phone not ringing with the call I've been waiting for, He told me to get up, and drive to a state park just outside of Madison. Huh? Sure, I know where Governor Nelson State Park is, but I haven't been there in years. It's a park, with woods, and animals, and hiking trails. It's not really my kind of place. But somehow I knew I needed to be there. I was trusting I needed to go, but I wasn't sure was going to happen when I got there, so I still had a backup plan. I at least brought my "fun" book and a blanket, and my plan was to park myself at the beach and get lost in a novel. So, I drove the 15 miles or so to get there. Paid my $7 to get in. Grabbed a map. And found a parking spot. Now what. The map had 4 hiking paths marked out, and I had parked at the beginning of one of them. I thought... why not. Let's hike.

To get an idea for how unprepared I was for this walk, check out the shoes I wore on this little trip.

I ended up on a 2 mile trail, walking through the woods. I had a map in my back pocket with all these fun little facts about trees along the trail, how the lakes in Madison were formed. Now also remember that this isn't really my element. Everytime I saw one of the little number markers on the path that indicated the map had some extra info, I found myself pulling out the map, reading about it, and also just making sure I was going the right way. I really didn't care about the trees. Or the lakes. Or any of the history. I was really only looking at the map to make sure I wasn't going to get lost out in this woods. I know this is completely irrational. This was a WELL groomed path, that is nearly impossible to wander off of unintentionally.

The whole idea of making sure I'm on the right track is just so typical for me. I need to make sure everything is going the way I plan it. Life should be mapped out, I have it mapped out in my head, and life gets thrown in a tailspin when something goes wrong. Exactly like it did this morning. It's the little things - like the car being repaired, but coming back with something else wrong, or not getting a phone call when I expect it - that can just take me down for the count.

I was about 3/4 of a mile into the hike (I know because I had it all measured out on the map of course!), when I finally realized how little attention I was paying to everything around me - the bird hanging upside down on a tree limb, the spider web stretching almost three feet between two branches, the tiny bright purple flowers soaking up the sun. At that point, I made a conscious decision to keep the map in my back pocket for the rest of the hike, and just trust that the path would take me in the right direction, and eventually lead me out of the woods.

It's incredible how much nicer the walk was after that. For the whole first mile, I didn't see any other people walking. After that, I ran into an older woman who smiled at me and commented about how nice it was that we had a warm day in September. I met a man walking his brand new puppy who I knelt down and played with for awhile. A kid out for a run (who did two circuits of the path while I was walking that last mile!) who just smiled as he passed. I noticed the sun breaking through the trees more. And even better, I noticed God showing up for me just when I most needed Him.

No, my car isn't magically fixed. The phone call didn't come. I'm still dealing with some of the crap that runs through my head. But I know He's there. And I'll be ok without that map I so often depend on. He has a map that's so much better than mine. And even better than having a map in my back pocket, is having Him on the walk with me every step of the way.


Anita J. said...

Beautiful. I love it.

Erin said...

All so true! Love it and love you! Thank you for sharing!

Tabitha said...

This whole blog could be a wonderful sermon illustration. You words really moved me. And I'm so proud of you for getting out on a hike. Next thing you know we'll get you out camping!