Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Directions…can’t live with them….can’t live without them!


Directions….I find that I can’t live with them….or can’t live without them. 

I often think what did people do before GPS and the little gal on the phone who gives us directions?  Did we wing it?  Did we actually talk to a live person and write down each turn and each landmark to ensure that we would indeed arrive at our destination?

I find that I have a very unhealthy love….hate relationship with directions!  It could be directions for arriving at a desired place at a desired time.  It could be directions on how to operate a coffee maker, food processor or a sewing project.  It takes time, effort and patience to read directions.  Without directions we can have disasters.  As Preacher often says, “when all else fails….read the directions.”  He often quotes this after a bumbling, bubbly mess I have concocted for dinner.  Directions.

I tend to try to skip the directions and wing it.  Ouch….as Dr. Phil often asks, “How is that working for you?”

Well, to be brutally frank and humbly honest, it does not work.

I was reminded of this fact just a few days ago.  I got to my destination and meet son, Tim to assist with a project he was working on.  I had not been to this particular place in several months.  I focused and kept my thoughts on target: arrive at destination, on time.  I was so proud of myself when I pulled up at the right place, at the right time.  I even did a stint of braggadocio: ‘Tim, I arrived and did not get lost or turned around.’  That puffed up, prideful feeling should have been an indication that a fall was right around the corner.   And it was!

After the assist, I got back in my car to carry on to my next destination.  What should have taken a mere 5 minutes or less ended up taking me 45 minutes.  As I got in my car to make my way to my next stop, I was obviously feeling snug and satisfied and began to daydream about the rest of the day and how very organized and on schedule my day was going.

Almost immediately I somehow turned too quickly and the sights seemed a little unfamiliar…but sometimes that can happen, well at least with me.  I came to an unfamiliar traffic light and the area still seemed unfamiliar….so I had to make a decision: right or left.  Hmmm… This seemed like an easy fix and I should have been back on course in no time.  Did not happen that way at all.

I had my trusty little phone with me which has an app that features a little gal whom I can summon for directions.  I must admit she is pretty good, pretty accurate, spot on.  She has escorted me on many a little trip and brought me right to the door of my destination without one hitch.  Well, maybe one or two, but she does get me back on track and quickly!

Now, mind you, she can be bossy!  Several times I have been in the far right lane and should have been in the far left lane and be prepared to turn left.  She starts telling me: turn left in 30 yards; then turn left in 20 yards; then turn left in 10 yards.  Problem is I am caught in traffic and I could NOT possibly get into the far left lane, even with her prodding.  So, I cut my loses and pass the turn; by now she is adamant: make a U turn at the next left turn!  And to appease her, that is exactly what I do.  I make a u-turn.

I don’t especially like it when a phone outsmarts me, out thinks me and well-it just too big and bossy for its ‘britches’….as we say in Kentucky!

And as usual she was right.  When I do make the U-turn as she instructs, I am back on course.

Not this particular day.  I did not even consult ‘little miss direction.’  Nope, I thought, ‘self, you got this.’.  So I took a left turn after consulting my very rusty, untrusty compass. That compass is my intuition.  I should have known better, this compass has failed me many times.  Hmmmmm… I did not have it….at all.

So I took the left turn and began merrily driving along.  I was still pretty confident and all the while I was still planning my day and I felt I had everything under control.  I began looking for the cross street that would eventually take me to my destination. 

Now, two things bug me tremendously about Big D streets.  Did I say TREMENDOUSLY?  Whether I am driving or I am sitting on the passenger side, I am tremendously bothered by our street signs.  Now I wear glasses and have since 8th grade.  I must wear them for distance and now for close up reading…anyway, I have corrective lenses and still cannot read most street signs!  They are too small!  I squint, I squint even tighter, screw up my face and still cannot see the street sign.  I do not know who these signs were designed for, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I am not the only one who has trouble seeing these signs…oh, BTW, gasp when there are no street signs! 

The second big bug that bugs me tremendously is small address numbers on buildings…or lack thereof!!  I am amazed at how business after business does not have their address number loud and up front so persons of interest, like myself, can see them! There should be a law!  There should be rioting in the streets!  There should be a major protest!

So for me, double wammy!  Can’t see street signs, there are no numbers on business and some houses…what is a poor, older, can barely see person, like myself to do?  HA…get lost…that is what happens.

Anyway, here I am driving along; I have decided-I made a conscious, deliberate, rebellious decision, NOT to consult my ready at hand direction gal.  When I get in this mindset, somehow I am convinced that if I drive far enough, believe hard enough and squint hard enough, I will arrive at my destination. Who am I kidding?

Note to self:  does not work like that. 

So, I kept driving, all the time, not quite in panic mode, but that little nag in my head, kept saying, ‘this does NOT look familiar.’   Soon the nag turned into a sing song…’this does NOT look familiar.’

Finally, the nag screams in full force, ‘THIS DOES NOT LOOK FAMILIAR.”

I had been driving for 20 minutes and should have come to my turn to get back on course 18 minutes ago.  That should have been my first indication that something was not right.  But, no, stubborn me just had to keep driving.

I glanced at a street sign that I could actually see and thought…hmmmm…that is familiar!  Ha!  Ha!

Oh, it was familiar all right….two cities away from where I needed to be.  When I saw the sign “Welcome to Allen,” I shouted. “Allen!”  How did this happen?  I had stubbornly driven several miles, two cities away from my destination!  This severe error in judgment took several minutes out of my planned schedule.

So now I had no choice!  I pulled over, pulled out my phone and typed my destination in the app I fondly call  ‘Miss Know It ALL.’  I decided to follow… the directions.  I listened to every detail she spewed out.  My mouth was filled with a big bite of humble pie. Hard to chew; impossible to swallow.  She monotonously gave me direction after direction and guided me to my destination…..45 minutes later... 

Note to self:  heed the directions, ask for directions, obey the directions, when it feels ‘off’, it is off.  When nothing looks familiar, beware.  Just because I thought I could ‘make it right’…did not make it right.  I was wrong, way off course and there were consequences: time lost, gas wasted and eating humble pie is hard on the body and spirit.

So, as I arrived at my destination, I was frustrated to say the least.  I did not ever admit to son, Tim, that although I had easily arrived to meet him, I did not easily arrive at my next stop.  If he reads this, he will chuckle some, perhaps.  He has an excellent sense of direction: I have NO sense of direction.  I am one of those poor, lonely souls who someday will be lost in the parking lot for 40 years trying to find my car amongst the sea of other vehicles.

Anyway, after this event, I made note to self: ‘lesson learned”…(I hope), now, just exactly what did I learn from this?

I learned that even after all these years and as familiar as I think I might be in an area: follow directions.

Likewise, spiritually: FOLLOW DIRECTIONS.

Too often we think we know more than God and His Word.  Often we forget or just refuse to consult the Road Map, The Way, the Light, and the Truth.  We reason and justify our disobedience.  Unfortunately, there are consequences, some more serious and deadly than others.  God does not bless a mess.  And like I had to do; often we have to go all the way back to our starting place and do things His Way.

The very best set of instructions we have as human beings, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, grandchildren, neighbors, employers, employees and as children of God, is the Bible.

The Bible…how many of us sang that little song: ‘The B I  B L E, yes that’s the book for me, I stand alone on the Word of God, the B I B L E!’

In looking back at this little incident of my little direction challenge,   I thought how often do we try to wing our life without the best roadmap, the most accurate set of instructions, and the only true source of information.  Just like the little lady in my phone, God’s Word is ready at hand and available to help whenever, however, wherever.  But, as I experienced, we have to avail ourselves to those resources. Winging it: BTW, FYI ‘winging it’ comes from the late 19th century and it was first defined in 1885 “playing a role without knowing the text.”   See the parallel?  Make the connection.  Connect all the dots?  I did. Playing a role without the Word…….

Wow, does that make me sit up and take notice!  We, as Christians think we can ‘wing’ this Christian journey by ‘playing a role and not know the text-the text being the Bible…the Bible being our roadmap, our set of directions.

So, big note to self: Use the Guide, Read the Directions, Listen to Instructions, Observe the Road Signs.  Heed the danger and warning signs.  Just because we hope we can make our destination without proper directions, does not mean we will.  Trust me, as they say….’been there and done that!’


Dr. Phil, it did not work for me….nor will it for anyone else!

Now…if I can just find those glasses……

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