A Daily Lenten Devotion

When Tom and I began dating, we quickly realized that although we had so much in common, our brains functioned in very different ways. His = logical, thoughtful, detailed, and one that finishes things. Mine = creative, oftentimes illogical and risky, love to ask “what if” – and oftentimes forgetting to see something through to the end.  Because of our differences, sometimes we have passionate conversations. 🙂 Some of our most passionate conversations occur when I am in charge of navigation/directions. If I were to tell him we were going to go on a mapless journey, I don’t think he’d be “all in.”

“Andrea, I just have one request. When we first started dating I took every color test, personality inventory, etc. you asked me to take. I did them to make our relationship better. Now, I have just one small request for you.”

I had no idea what his small request was going to be. It was actually not small at all.

“I need you to learn to read a map.”

So what that I’d gotten us lost in a tunnel in Munich, going the complete opposite direction and there were no exit ramps so we drove 30 minutes the wrong way before we could turn around. (My justification was that he was the one of German heritage, not me. He should have been able to discern that we were lost by reading the road signs. How was I supposed to know?)

Or there was the time we wasted 30 minutes walking in circles in 105-degree heat trying to find Hattie B’s in Nashville before his afternoon business meeting began which ultimately he had to miss because I got us so lost yet I “knew” where I was going.

Or there was the time our 6 hour road trip turned into 7.5 hours as we were trying to find our destination in Loveland, Ohio at 10:30 pm. The neurotic Axel (who’d never been on a road trip before and had anxiety because of the sound/vibrations of the engine) was panting fervently, he desperately needed to go to the bathroom. As we stopped in some stranger’s farmland in the dark, Tom and Axel were simultaneously coming a bit unglued because of my inability to read a map.

Or there was the time that I was giving him directions for the Augusta Ironman 70.3 bike route and I missed a turn and of the 52 miles, he had to ride 8 extra miles before I figured out that something was wrong.

I have tried, actually, to be better with navigation. I’ve spent time in the apps reading their symbols, etc. but for whatever reason, I just can’t grasp what it is that I’m doing wrong. Because this has been something I struggled with for years, instead of fighting it, I find I just “roll with it” recognizing that WHEN I get lost, I’ll end up eventually finding my way. The transformation might just happen on the journey.

In faith, we have the opportunity to journey with God as revealed to us through the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Orthodox Christianity, however, has changed the original meaning of this journey (salvation). We’ve made it a map from “Point A to Point B” with “heaven or hell” being “B.”

What if we think about it differently?

What if we allow Jesus to emerge not as a “map” but as the road itself. He is The Light that guides us on our way.

If we are not careful with what is often called “orthodox” (or classical) theology, we make Jesus a transaction rather than The Way.  Jesus overcomes the gap between the “unworthy” humans and the almighty God by laying down his life as a bridge between the worlds – satisfying the debt humanity has towards God’s honor. It’s transactional, not relational.

But what if the way is so much more than just a debt that was paid? It is our way of life that leads to life? The journey is inward and mapless? One we take to meet, connect, learn, and grow from God that resides within our hearts, minds, and souls. The journey is actually “mapless” and one we explore by the guidance of The Spirit, prayers, scriptures, mystics, poems, and songs. It is not about a “final destination” but rather continuing to be enveloped in the ongoing revealing, enveloping presence of Love.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and life. . . I have come so that you might have life and do so abundantly.”