Waiting Without a Map

When I was in middle school, my childhood friend and I piled in the backseat of her parents’ car and set off toward Disney World. I remember them pulling out a large book of maps from the seat pocket behind them to locate where we were and start calling hotels on the route ahead for vacancy.

In high school, another friend and I decided to take a road trip to see my grandparents in the neighboring state. My friend hadn’t embarked much outside her small town so it was fun to see her eyes light up, realizing that she could get pretty much anywhere she wanted just by following the large, green signs on the interstate.

Both scenarios blow my mind to think about now, with online booking and GPS at our fingertips. We know where we’re going (and where we’re going to sleep along the way) before we even leave the house. How easy!

And this probably explains my impatience (partially, anyway). Wouldn’t things be easier if I had a map for life; if I knew what I was working for? Wouldn’t I rest easier if I knew that I could run our business payroll this week; if self-promotion would pay off? …If we knew our health problems went away; if all our dreams came true? Wouldn’t it be better if my “if” question marks were actually just “truth” periods?


But what kind of flat, shallow humans would we be if we could see exactly what was coming?

I had someone ask me the other day if I’d chosen a word for the year. This year, it honestly didn’t feel like I had much choice. In everything I’ve been reading the words “wait” and “abide” have been coming up so much, I was forced to take notice.

And lately, “trust” has been thrown in. Not a real fun bag of trail mix when you don’t have a map.

I recently watched an interview between Pete Greig and Helene Berhane, an Eritrean gospel singer who was arrested in 2004 because she refused to sign a document pledging to end all participating in evangelical activities. She was detained at Mai Serwa military camp and forced to endure confinement in a metal shipping container. She said there was a Bible smuggled in pieces and altogether, she’d read it through 15 times.

Helene told Pete that the book was truly alive, changing each time and it was only through the Bible she heard God speak.

“We revere the Bible, but we don’t read it.”

George W. Gallup

“The Bible is the best-selling, least read and least understood book.”

N.J. Dzurovcik

I think we all want to hear the voice of God, right? So, why don’t we read it?

Confession: I’ve never read it through once… but I want to change this. At the start of the year, my parents sent me The Daily Walk NLT Bible and that’s been especially helpful in breaking it down into daily bite-sized pieces.

With thoughts of waiting in the background, I was reading the book of Deuteronomy this week. I don’t think I’d realized that the route the Israelites took out of Egypt normally would’ve taken eleven days; less than two weeks! But because of their disobedience, they wandered in the wilderness for FORTY years.

I couldn’t help but draw a parallel to my forty-two year old self when I read the start of Moses’ sermon he gave before seeing them off (finally) to the Promised Land:

“The Lord your God is going ahead of you. He will fight for you, just as you saw him do… And you saw how the Lord cared for you all along the way as you traveled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for a child. Now he has brought you to this place.”

—Deuteronomy 2:30-31

Relatable. Our memories are so short, aren’t they?

I’m reminded of Psalms 52:8: “But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.”

Anytime I see food mentioned in the Bible, I think of Margaret Feinberg’s Taste and See and dig a little deeper. What on earth does it mean to be an olive tree?

From the time of Noah, and onward throughout the Bible, the olive tree and its bounty is associated with miracles and healing. Olive oil was used in the sacrificial offerings to God and to anoint kings and priests. The oil was used in the ancient lamps used in the temple of God. The oil’s smoke and fragrance wafting up to the heavens symbolized prayer.

I pictured myself as the olive tree here, flourishing in my story with the miracles and healing that Jehovah-Rapha has done in my life.

Olive tree in Rome Italy; walking from the Colosseum into the King’s Palace toward The Roman Forum.

“My body is carefully crafted to “gear up” when necessary and then “gear down” when the crisis is over. But because I live in a broken body in a broken world, I find it difficult to let down my guard and really relax. I need to remember that you are continually with me and worthy of all my confidence; all my trust.”

Jesus Listens by Sarah Young

I may not have a book of maps like we used in the 90s on that Orlando trip, but I see a pattern in these Old Testament pages dating back even farther! By looking back to the stones we’ve stacked and remembering what the Lord did then, it enables us to trust that He will do it again today (and tomorrow, and the next day).

Has God ever given a reason to make us think He would change His mind?

One Comment Add yours

  1. Karen Joy Wyler says:

    Thank you for another thought provoking blog post! Dad and I discused today’s Jesus Listens this morning on the way to church…powerful thoughts for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

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