Decades before GPS was available at my fingertips, my children and I roamed the earth in a Honda minivan, getting lost on many occasions. The only thing worse than getting lost with your own young children is getting lost with your friends’ children at the Houston Zoo.
Had I been to the Zoo before?
Sure, I had always gone with people who possessed a fabulous sense of direction. What didn’t I know? I had set off on a grand adventure with a friend who also had no sense of direction.
Somehow, we managed to arrive at the Zoo with little or no trouble, but that’s when it all started to go wrong. Let me explain to those of you who can drive to Dallas without consulting Google maps or even perhaps your local grocery store. The struggle for those with zero sense of direction is truly real. We are a small group in the general population, but on that fateful day, two adults lacking an internal compass came together. As we stepped into the parking lot of the Zoo with six children in tow, we had no idea the challenges we would face.
If anyone had been tracking us, they might have noticed the inefficient way we meandered around the Zoo. We must have passed by the East Indian Elephants no less than a dozen times. As we ambled along with our small gang of young ’uns, we became distracted by our own conversation and endless requests for snacks. The animals, the signage, the photo opportunities, and crowds conspired to leave us wandering and wondering. Did we stop and study the map of the Zoo? A map for me is a lovely illustration of objects that may or may not be near or far away.
Hours later things would turn ugly when our six tired children needed to go home, and two mothers had no clue how to find the freeway to go back out to the suburbs of Houston. No amount of gripping the steering wheel brought clarity and a deep sense of dread began to bubble up inside me. A cold sweat beaded up on my forehead. At one point I even took out my ancient, folded map. We both looked at it as we sat on the side of the road trying to determine a way forward. Nothing.
The digital clock on the dashboard counted down the minutes to rush hour. Sheer panic mixed with paralysis glued me to the driver’s seat. Our supply of cold juice boxes and time were dwindling rapidly.
With just over two weeks left until Christmas, it’s far too easy to feel lost, disoriented, and out of time. In this season of Advent, the Anglican prayer book offers a prayer for the third Sunday of Advent (December 12, 2021) that speaks to our need for direction and waypoints in life’s spiritual journey.
Am I taking time this Advent season to make way for more of Jesus in my life?
Do I live a life reflecting the hope found at the second coming of Jesus?
Psalm 25 offers some wisdom for these questions.
1 To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me.
3 Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
4 Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.
5 Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. (Psalm 25:1-5 ESV)
This morning I will choose to lift my soul to the one who created it, by reading my Bible and praying. Even when I don’t have time, I will choose to trust my divine creator to make provision in all ways. I will seek Your next steps for me and not my own. Help me learn about Your path for my life. I want to go where You call me to and wait for your prompting and not get ahead or behind Your daily guidance.
6 Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.
7 Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!
8 Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
9 He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. Psalm 25: 6-10 ESV
Lord, teach me to remember Your mercy. Help me forget my sins and transgressions and see Your steadfast love. Help me to keep a humble posture towards You. Lead, teach and guide me in Your paths of faithfulness.
11 For your name's sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great.
12 Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
13 His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land.
14 The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.
15 My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for he will pluck my feet out of the net.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Psalm 25: 11-16 ESV
Lord, in Your presence I long to abide. In mercy, You extend friendship to me and a rescuing hand when I find trouble. Help me keep my eyes always on You. At this most joyful time of the year, loss and sadness can eclipse the glow of Christmas lights. In the darkest times, I will find solace in You as my soul-satisfying companion.
17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses.
18 Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.
19 Consider how many are my foes, and with what violent hatred they hate me.
20 Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me! Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.
22 Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles. Psalm 25:17-22 ESV
Lord, You are my deliverer, one who understands me, the guard of my soul, my protector, and the only one worthy of my waiting.
Advent Prayer from Psalm 25
Lord, as I spend time in Your word today, I am reminded of Your kindness to me, and I give thanks. You know all about my propensity towards getting lost. You hear my cries, and You provide what I lack. Thank you for finding me and showing me the way of salvation when I was lost. Help me to live a life pointing the way for fellow travelers. This Advent season let me use my time wisely to prepare the way for others so they can see the hope I am holding on to in this season. Amen
Back at the minivan just outside the Zoo in a moment of collective brilliance, we both looked up and noticed a built-in compass above the rear-view mirror. We knew we lived North of Houston. Surely, if we traveled North, we would eventually get back to Spring. Maybe?
The good news is we made it back home, eventually.
How about you this Advent? Are you making your own way or following what the Lord has for you? The gift of not having any real internal sense of direction has always reminded me to seek daily and even moment by moment directions. I may even have multiple GPS apps on my phone. However, when it comes to my spiritual life, I give thanks today to the Lord who never tires of showing me His way. He is always ready to give me turn by turn directions in real-time.