Recalculating

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by Tracy Cooper

When riding in the car with my husband, Kurt, there was nothing that stressed me out more than when he would say, “Hurry up and pull out the map. See if I need to get off at this exit.” What?  Seriously? As though I could figure that out quickly and under pressure! Or… figure it out at all for that matter. Not a chance.

I am terrible at reading maps. I’m a person who needs to rotate the map to the direction I am facing. This usually means upside down or sideways. That is the only way I can figure out where I am and where I’m going. Unlike some people, I do not have the ability to use mental rotation.  And because of that, I am so thankful for the invention of GPS and smartphones!

I have come to accept that my special abilities or “lack thereof” make it difficult for me to read maps. I do best when someone tells me directions, especially if they use landmarks as the directionals. I will always remember the landmarks!

That leads me to one summer day several years ago. I knew I was lost. As I traveled along, I was not seeing the same landmarks I had seen on the way there. Unfortunately, GPS and smartphones were not yet around to help recalculate my route.

I decided to squeeze in one more little vacation before the kids went back to school. We had recently moved to Richmond and I wanted to show them Philadelphia, the city where my parents grew up. I have fond memories of visiting my grandmother there.

Kurt was unable to go with us, but I decided I could do this 3-day trip on my own. Our 4 young kids (ages 6-11) and I were excited. I made hotel reservations, planned our itinerary and mapped our route. (OK, maybe Kurt mapped my route). Nonetheless, I felt confident in this little excursion.

It turned out to be a fun trip. We saw a lot of historical sites in the short time there.

On the final day, the kids and I packed everything up and loaded the van. I spent a couple of minutes patting myself on the back for a successful trip and then we headed home.  

As we left the city, I realized too late that we were crossing the wrong bridge. This one had a $10 toll!  And if that wasn’t bad enough, it dumped us right on to an expressway in New Jersey. Now, I have nothing against New Jersey, but I definitely knew we did not travel through New Jersey on our way to Philadelphia.

I had no choice but to keep driving. No exits were in sight. The panic set in. What do I do?  Where am I? How do I get back on the right route?

My children could tell I was upset when the tears started to flow down my face. I felt alone as I told the kids that we were lost.

In response, my 9-year old son, Ross, touched my hand and compassionately said, “We’re not lost mom because we are all together.”

Wow. What a concept. We are not lost because we are all together. It truly is harder to get lost when we are together than when we are alone.

I have learned over the years, how important it is to do life together with other believers. When I feel lost or alone, I have people in my life who lead me back. Pray with me. Encourage me.  Guide me. Hold me accountable. Laugh with me. Cry with me. Do life with me.

“Discover creative ways to encourage others[a] and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love.  This is not the time to pull away and neglect[b] meeting together, as some have formed the habit of doing, because we need each other! In fact, we should come together even more frequently, eager to encourage and urge each other onward as we anticipate that day dawning.”  Hebrews 10:24-25 The Passion Translation (TPT)

After a lot more tears, a few stops for directions and a trip back over the $10 toll bridge, we were finally headed home in the right direction.

Are you feeling lost? Headed in the wrong direction? Can’t seem to find your way back?

First, Trust God. “Don't panic. I'm with you. There's no need to fear for I'm your God. I'll give you strength. I'll help you. I'll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.” Isaiah 41:10 (MSG)

Second, be sure you are doing life with other believers. Jesus tells us… “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” - Matthew 18:20

There are times in our lives that we all feel lost and heading in the wrong direction. When we have a small group of friends that we are doing life with, they can help “recalculate our route” and guide us back to Jesus.

Who are you doing life with?