Tuesday, October 13, 2015


Sometimes our journey down the #NarrowRoad is a tricky one, even if we have directions and a GPS system. Witness the following account...

This past Sunday morning began slowly at the Jones' house. Our friend Lisa had spent the night with us after having a rough day on Saturday, and the plans for the day were uncertain. She and Marilyn had originally planned to go to Disney for the day, but they were both afraid Lisa was not quite up to that adventure even though she was feeling better. But we all wanted to get out of the house for a while. So I suggested we take a trip to the Shops at Wiregrass, a large outdoor shopping center located about 35 minutes away. It was a beautiful day and that sounded like a plan, so around noon we prepared to leave. As I was opening the garage it suddenly occurred to me that we didn't know exactly how to get there, so I returned to the computer and did a MapQuest. After originally being told it was in New Port Richey (and knowing that was untrue)  we tried again and got directions. We were off an running on our grand adventure. And we had no idea what lay ahead of us...

We followed the prescribed route to I-275 north and then to exit 59 for highway 56. The MapQuest told us not to go right or left, but to follow 56 towards Tarpon Springs for 7.7 miles, then to make a U-turn and our location would be on our right. We were enjoying the ride, having merry conversations and playing Skittle until we began to fear something was not right. We had traveled too far and still not seen the intersection that was supposed to warn us we had gone too far. Now doubting our printed directions, I turned on my phone GPS and discovered Google Maps said our destination was still 20 minutes away. That made no sense, but we kept driving. The cell signal was cutting in and out as we made our way through exciting Pasco County, but we finally reached that moment every man dreads. We stopped to ask for directions. As we did my signal suddenly reappeared, and it told us we were now 24 minutes away- in the WRONG direction! So we U-turned (not the U-turn from the original directions!) and started back east. My GPS suddenly told us to take a left turn- on a road we had passed several miles back. This was insane, so I killed the GPS and went rogue- following road signs! But we decided that the mistake had actually happened way back when we exited I-275 and went left towards Tarpon Springs. We went back, crossed over the highway, and found the Shops at Wiregrass about a mile down the road. It should have been so simple. We did everything right. We had the technology. We followed the directions. And it took us nearly an hour and a half to make a 35 minute trip. And all to go to a glorified mall. There were many reasons to be upset and miserable. But we weren't.

In fact, the entire messed-up adventure became a wonderful distraction and a great story. We were talking and laughing about silly things and happy moments. We grabbed some lunch at Panera, the first real meal Lisa had eaten a a couple of days. We wandered around outdoors, basking in a beautiful October afternoon in Florida. There was shopping, laughing and a bit of rare serenity as we spent the day together. Though we arrived at our destination in a totally unexpected way, we did arrive- and the trip was so much more than we could have anticipated when we began.

The #NarrowRoad is often much like our Sunday afternoon. We think we know where Jesus wants us to go. We do what we think are the right things and follow what we think are the right directions. And sometimes, despite our best efforts, we end up LOST. We aren't the people we want to be, and reaching that destination requires altering our routes, rebooting our GPS systems and making big and sometimes unexpected U-turns. The life Jesus calls us to is not a path this world understands, and so the maps we follow are often out-of-date and incomplete. We far too often count on our own abilities and expect to "arrive" because we are good people who know the right things to do. It's just never that simple. And so many times the best lessons and the greatest moments occur when we are lost and wandering. I tweeted last week that the hardest days often come with the biggest blessings- if only we will see them. I believe that. We prefer our lives to be simple and easy. But the truth is our joy often comes from overcoming obstacles. There is fear and frustration in being LOST. But there is sooooo much joy in being FOUND!!!

One last thought. As we have told this story to other family and friends over the last couple of days, Lisa has always ended it by saying that we drove straight home- and it was very anti-climactic. She is so right. We say it often, but it is so true- when traveling the #NarrowRoad, do not miss the joy in the journey. There is much to be learned from being LOST!

Because of Jesus,

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