"Where are we?" my daughter wailed, panicking as she drove us home from our Irish Dancing class last night. The highway was unfamiliar to her in the dark, and it seemed to be taking longer than she expected to get to our turnoff. I was able to reassure her that we were fine and hadn't gone past the exit sign. We agreed the darkness had created a whole different experience for her.
I thought of my reflections over the past while about our need for landmarks in our lives, and how my times of floundering in the past have been because I didn't know the landmarks or didn't have the supportive people in my life to help me find the right ones. Particularly when I was weaker in my faith this caused me great struggle, confusion and often, a sort of despair.
I love being able to help my daughters find landmarks. It thrills me that my experiences can help to give them the comfort and direction they need. I especially enjoy it because I am not seeking to do that for them, but like to respond to their need. And it helps me to realize that I do know lots of helpful things to share with them. That my experience, however difficult at times, has benefit in being able to help them find the kinds of landmarks that I didn't always find easily, or at the right time.
There must be many people who feel they are floundering like I did. And yet we don't want to just step in and take over their lives, and steer the car for them, as it were. I was not helped by people along the way who did that with me. It only made the way harder, because I didn't learn how to look for landmarks, how to recognize them, how to find my way myself, how to depend on God helping me find my way.
For even if we do know how to look for landmarks, it is still only safe to let God make our way. On Sunday my daughters and I visited relatives who are dear friends and prayerfully caring for our family. We were on our way to the university fair, to help them connect with a school that will open the way for them to go where they want to go. I so appreciated their comment that our prayer is to ask God to make the way for them, for us, for everything, each day.
I then remembered again the words of another dear friend who has been a stalwart encourager in my life these last few years. She has always reminded me that "God will make a way, where there seems to be no way." I was led back again to the words of that familiar song of comfort and assurance by Don Moen:
God will make a way,
where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
God will make a way for me
He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side
With love and strength for each new day
He will make a way, He will make a way.
By a roadway in the wilderness, He'll lead me
And rivers in the desert will I see
Heaven and earth will fade
But His Word will still remain
He will do something new today.
It seems so simple, and yet it is very hard. It is all about trust, and about recognizing landmarks. Trusting that He will provide them, and teach us what they mean, and if they are the right ones, that He will provide people who will help us learn what we need to know. And much of that comes from being willing to ask for help when we need it, to wail when we feel lost, to ask "Where are we? Where am I?"
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."