We are all familiar with the big red arrow containing the words “You Are Here” which can be found on maps everywhere. Whether you are wandering a theme park looking for a particular roller coaster, hiking a trail in search of your car, or simply searching for that “cute little shop” at the mall, there is something comforting about seeing those three words printed across an oversized, upright map. Everyone from Pocahontas to my directionally challenged mother is able to take one quick glance at the map and see exactly where they are in relation to their surroundings.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have one of those arrows for life? Whenever you felt lost, you could simply saunter over to the nearest map and see exactly where you are in life and where you need to go to get to your destination. Should I accept that job or not? Should I marry that girl? Should I eat a second piece of pie or not? (Hint: The answer to that last one is always yes.) Life would be so much simpler with a road map.
Last school year, with graduation on the horizon and the prospect of job and house hunting, I really wished I could find that red arrow to give me my bearings. Then, in the span of about three weeks, the Lord provided a good job and place to live! Everything came together quite nicely, in fact! The first part of the summer was filled with lots of exciting changes and adventures. My time has been spent learning my job, figuring out how to cook, trying to find things in the grocery store, along with other adult tasks. It has been quite the adventure, and if you know me, you know that I thrive on adventure.
But then students started coming back to Bryan. You would think that having my friends return to the area would have been a good thing, but in my desire to avoid being the graduate who can’t move on from college, I have intentionally distanced myself from campus. While all of my housemates are going back and forth to different campus events, hanging out with friends, I remain at home trying to figure out what to do with myself.
I used to not mind Dayton at all; the small town feel always was endearing to me. But perhaps the reason I never minded Dayton was because I had Bryan College. Without the school I’ve started to feel stuck; marooned in a small town. My red arrow points here when I want to be there.
It’s funny how one seed of discontent can act as a black hole for all other areas of your life, tugging on them to fall into a swirling mess of dissatisfaction. I am by no means discontent with life as a whole, in fact I truly love where I am, but I can feel myself starting to feel useless.
There are moments that I wonder if I’ve found myself in a dead end on the map, but you see, that is precisely why God doesn’t give us a map. If we had a map we would set out on a trek to the location we wanted, rather than the location He has for us. Proverbs 16:9 says, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” God does not lead us anywhere without a reason.
In our culture it has become popular to have five-year plans, etc. It seems like a very logical concept if you want to be successful, but scripture seems to indicate that, as believers, we should have an entirely different perspective.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” You don’t even know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes. Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. (James 4:13-16).
Woody Allen once said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” You see, while we have all these grandiose plans for our lives, the reality is that we are all just notes in a beautiful symphony that has been orchestrated through all of time; each note very carefully composed.
I heard someone say the other day, “If you knew everything that God knew, you would make all the same decisions that He has made.” I didn’t like that statement at first, simply because my pride wanted to hold out hope that I could do a better job guiding my life than God, but the fact of the matter is that I would make the same decisions He has.
Have you ever watched a group of people play each other in a video game? As an outside party you are able to watch all four screens and see exactly where everyone is and what they are doing. Because of this knowledge, the decisions you would make if you were playing are often very different than those of the individual…because you can see the whole picture.
While we may view the red arrow on the map as a mere waypoint on the path to our destination, we must remember that sometimes God wants us to content with being right where He has placed us. He can see the whole picture and we cannot. Perhaps we should think less about how to get out of here and more about why we are here.
Whether you are starting at a new school, just got out of a relationship, were recently fired from a job, or stuck in small-town Dayton, God has you there for a reason. I promise. You are here. How will you glorify Him?