As I sometimes spend time with my grandchildren when their parents are out of town, I am reminded of how much I appreciate the handy GPS on my phone. There are often times when a trip to a soccer game, a music lesson, or some other activity requires I navigate to a place I have never been over roads that are not well known to me. I know that GPS is not always 100% accurate, but over the years I think it has improved and is not often wrong.
How much more difficult it was to navigate around town when the phone in our purses did not give us that assistance. My husband is very visual so he always loves to look at or have someone draw a map. Those don’t seem to work for me. I am one of those who needs landmarks and such to guide me, but that is a bit imprecise sometimes.
There is also the challenge of stopping and asking someone for directions after your preferred method fails. Whether or not the person has a clue or acts as if they do is a toss up. More than once I have gotten bad advice.
Clearly, that was the experience of Jayber in Wendell Berry’s novel, Jayber Crow. Listen to this description:
“I got a lot of bad advice. People either didn’t know the way or were guessing, or they were mistaken about where the roads were blocked. I traveled by going wrong and then going right and then going wrong again, lost most of the time.”
Those words (spoken about an earthbound trip from point A to point B) can be just as true about our journey through life. Along the way, we can be given a lot of advice. Some of it is unasked for and offered from those who appear to be “in the know”. The challenge for us is whether we accept and trust the counsel or not.
Those offering the advice may be very sincere and sound knowledgeable. It seems like a safe bet to follow their guidance, but we may still find ourselves somewhere along “the yellow brick road” far from our destination. There may be many reasons for that. These may include that we do not ask with enough definition for them to understand what advice we may need. Other times the problem may be that the adviser may be using a lens filter from his or her own experience that distorts the information.
The truth is that the Father creates each of us uniquely. Each of us will likely take a variety of different paths to arrive at the place He has called us to. It will not be unusual for it to take some time for us to determine just what that is. Even with the best of counsel, we may be unsure of where we are on the journey.
Jayber Crow describes it this way:
“For long stretches…I walked along it seemed that I was staying in place and the world was turning backward beneath me like a big wheel. When I looked up again I would see that I had come a considerable way since I had looked the last time, and that would be a pleasure.”
Do we ask or not?
Even the most independent of us discovers at some point we want or need to ask for the advice or counsel of others. The key to remember is to choose the right companion for our journey through life. Humankind choices that prove the best are those who offer wisdom and insight as well as information. They also speak the truth even if we prefer not to hear it.
There is only One who knows the way we are to take. There is only One who never sleeps and never tires of us. There is only One who cheers us on even when we stumble. He is the same One who will be waiting for us when we finish the race and cross the finish line into eternity.
When Jesus walked the earth He sometimes appeared to be alone, but was never truly alone except when He hung on the cross. He communed with His Father who ordered His steps.
Let us never forget that when Jesus departed this earth, He promised and gave the Holy Spirit to us to be the very best companion. His counsel always lines up with the Father and Son. His advice never fails. It is we who must learn to listen patiently and then follow where He leads us.