Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Stumped by a Bump in the Road

As usual, I was rushing through my morning clean-up routine, hoping to get to work on time. Hair brushed, teeth brushed...and I was just reaching for a makeup brush when I saw it... a tiny ladybug, trundling along on hair-thin legs that miraculously supported the weight of the orange bubble on its back.

“How does it do that?” I queried...and just like that, my hustle was halted by the wonder of watching that little bug in progress along the bathroom sink. Having reached a glass that it decided to climb, a mason jar covered in twine netting, it decided the smooth surface was too slick, took hold of the first string it touched instead, and headed up.

The trouble with netting, however, is that there are knots that have to be traversed. The little bug made it past the first two or three without any problem, but soon came to an intersection of three lengths of roping and seemed stumped. It wasn't getting over the hump that was the issue, as it had traversed the others easily. The problem had to be the question of which way to go. To the right? The left? Or straight ahead? The decision seemed to be too much for the mind encased inside that tiny head, so it sat where it was and waited for inspiration...while I remembered I had a destination myself, and got on the road.

Obviously, I'm easily distracted. But that bug-in-progress got my attention because we are more alike than I sometimes like to think. We are tiny specks in a great big universe, making our way through each day as best we can. Our progress is slowed by the decisions that have to be made all along that road. One after another the questions arise, the answers to which sometimes decide the course of the rest of the day. Most of the decisions we make automatically, without even realizing we are doing so...the result of learned behaviors and habits. Others we make more deliberately in an effort to avoid repeating past mistakes, a type of brain-training in progress as we intentionally shape our attitudes and actions along more positive lines. And then there are those that require real study... a research of options, the counsel of collective thought. We stop at that spot and try to determine the best course of action. Sometimes the questions are too big for the brain inside the cranium...and so what do we do then?

A bug is left to make its decisions on its own and suffer the consequences. Thankfully, we can avoid a similar fate. We can ask the One In The Know which way to go.

God is not just watching our daily walk, idly listening to our conversation, or laughing at our mistakes. He is longing to get involved and direct our steps to higher ground. But He is waiting to be invited in...not just into our hearts and our daily lives, but into every decision that needs to be made. The Bible is full of verses that beg us to ask for answers, to seek His direction, to knock on the door of His heart for help.

It is likewise full of promises that He will hear our cries for assistance and respond! That is why I was floored by a conversation on a daytime talk show recently that mocked a high-ranking politician for saying that he receives direction from God. Apparently the host who was speaking thought it was one thing to talk to Jesus, but another thing to hear Him talk back. She said that hearing voices was a sign of mental illness. Isn't it interesting that the Jews back in Bible times likewise thought Jesus was a lunatic because He said He received direction from His heavenly Father? Surely it's a sign of the spiritual illness of our country that we have so distanced ourselves from the Source of our hope and our help that we no longer believe we can hear His voice.

The talk show host has since apologized for her comments, but maybe we needed the reminder that God does speak to us in a myriad of ways, even audibly to some. Most of us, however, hear a silent whisper in our minds, experience a knowing in our hearts in answer to our questions, or find direction in seemingly miraculous ways when we look in His Book, the Bible. A portion of a pastor's sermon may speak exactly to what we're going through, or a line in a song may bring sudden inspiration. Maybe the counsel of the close friends God has surrounded us with will guide us in a difficult time. Sunrises, sunbeams, rainbows...all the wonders of creation are likewise at God's beck and call to calm our anxious minds, fill our hearts with hope and point us in His direction when we are crying in confusion, cringing in fear...or simply crawling over the bumps in our road and wondering which way to go.

Some believe that it is only those who are already in regular contact with God who can expect to receive heavenly help when needed. But Jesus made it clear in the Parable of the Lost Sheep that all of us are children of God; some of us just haven't found our way Home yet. And as the Good Shepherd, Jesus would readily leave those sheep already established in the kingdom to go find the one that is still lost and alone and in need of help. I believe it's the bleats and cries of the lost and lonely that reach His ears, touch His heart and move his hand in their direction to rescue, restore, or simply redirect.

Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way, walk in it,' whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.”
(Isaiah 30:21)

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