I miss roadmaps. I realize that Global Positioning Systems represent an important advance, but my relationship with them is ambiguous at best. Sometimes they’re just wrong, and they refuse to admit it. I once followed GPS guidance through a square mile section of Buffalo, N.Y., where I had never been before or since. Not one to argue with “science,” I made the same loop through the same neighborhood three or four times before admitting that no exit was on the agenda.
And, if you fail to follow an instruction, how do they program the voice to say “recalculating” with such a tone of condescension? It might as well just say, “What part of ‘take the next right’ do you not understand?”
GPS also promises to simplify the search for essential roadside services. Evidently, that is limited to service stations and emergency medical services. I for one consider Dairy Queen an essential roadside service. Why isn’t there a DQ button on the dash, which simply overrides the tracking system? Aren’t we close to a technology where with one push of a button the car just drives itself to the nearest Dairy Queen?
The Lord sends you forth not only to heal and save others but, in doing so and by his grace, to do the same for ourselves.
I also resent the way the GPS spoon-feeds me information. Yes, I can zoom out to see my entire route to a small western Kansas town near the Colorado border. But what if I’d like to know if Highway 4 continues on into Colorado? My GPS take the attitude that if I wanted to know about Colorado I should have asked, three hours ago, when we started. It zooms out to show the entire North American continent as if to say, “Am I supposed to respond to every rumination you’ve got about this place?” GPS takes no responsibility for what you might call “the big picture.”
When the Prophet Amos is rudely dismissed by Amaziah, a priest of the Bethel sanctuary, he responds by identifying the warrant for his dire warning. God is guiding him.
I was no prophet,
nor have I belonged to a company of prophets;
I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores.
The Lord took me from following the flock, and said to me,
Go, prophesy to my people Israel (Amos 7:14-15).
Prophets are sent out to prepare God’s way, to carry God’s message, to be God’s presence. Consider how detailed are the instructions that Jesus offers to his disciples:
He instructed them to take nothing for the journey
but a walking stick—
no food, no sack, no money in their belts.
They were, however, to wear sandals
but not a second tunic.
He said to them,
“Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave.
Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you,
leave there and shake the dust off your feet
in testimony against them” (Mk 6:8-11).
Not to quibble with our Lord, but did you notice a rather key element, missing in his mission prep? He does not tell his disciples where to go. Are they supposed to figure this out for themselves? Are we supposed to do the same? Seems like an important question, seeing that we speak of ourselves as being sent into the world.
What does it mean to let your weakness lead you?
So, if you’re wondering, where am I being sent? Where does the Lord want me to go? Here is a partial piece of the puzzle: Follow your wound. Follow that part of you that is hurt, incomplete and wanting, because the Lord sends you forth not only to heal and save others but, in doing so and by his grace, to do the same for ourselves. That is just how clever the Lord is. He sends the wounded walking, knowing that their healing lies ahead in a life shared with others.
Some might suspect that mission should be rooted in our strengths, not our wounds. But Jesus himself says: “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners” (Mk 2:17). Those who rely on their own strengths for ministry can be tempted to be judgmental, to look down upon those whom they view as weak.
What does it mean to let your weakness lead you? If you recognize that you know nothing about what it means to be poor, if you correctly suspect that you are wrong in thinking that the poor are poor because of their moral failure, that is your wound. Now go out and serve the poor.
Much as I hate to admit it, the Good Lord does not spread his map before us.
If you’re lonely, if you feel that the world has forgotten you, think of someone you have almost forgotten. Go see them; give them a call.
If you cannot seem to stop racing, if your life just won’t slow down, go to a church and sit in the silence. Empty churches have a way of speaking God’s presence, of soothing us with God’s silent balm. Admittedly, you are ministering to yourself, but the severely wounded need bandaging before they can walk.
If someone has hurt you profoundly, give them your considered attention, not simply your resentment. What is truly best for the two of you now? Maybe you should keep your distance and concentrate on holding the other up in prayer. Maybe you need to make the first move, not because it is owed but because you recognize that your life is a mission.
In him we were also chosen,
destined in accord with the purpose of the One
who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will,
so that we might exist for the praise of his glory,
we who first hoped in Christ (Eph 1:11-12).
Much as I hate to admit it, the Good Lord does not spread his map before us. He does not answer all our questions, explain what will befall us on our journey. Sadly (at least for those who want to be in control), the Holy Spirit is more akin to a GPS. He simply indicates the direction of travel, and, so often in life, that means following our own woundedness out into the world, where the Lord intends to heal us and those whom we encounter.