A Man and his Map

We men like to think we know the way to somewhere. Even if we don’t know, we like to pretend we do. And dare I suggest that many of us are reluctant to take advice on directions? Perhaps I’m generalising but, of course, there is a solution – a map!

Wherever I go on holiday I feel the need to have a map. I think it’s to do with being secure, getting my bearings, establishing where I am. Perhaps it’s an ancient call from the hunter-protector within to ensure that the way ahead avoids points of potential ambush whilst passing through places of peaceful refuge. I have a whole box full of maps from a lifetime of going places.

Maps are great! They can help you identify remote beaches, rugged coastline, off-shore islands or even buried treasure. Maps are really useful for working out the quickest route to anywhere from somewhere. You can trace the meanderings of rivers, streams and footpaths. You can pinpoint post offices and other timeless features. Most importantly, you can find your way when you are lost.

These days, many of us make use of digital maps and Sat-Nav. But as clever as these things are to get you from A to B, a man with a massive concertina of a physical map in his hand is clearly an explorer, a pioneer, a master of all his eye can see.

Until, of course, it’s foggy. Then, it’s a different story. Suddenly there’s an insecurity, an inability to intuitively know the way; a reluctance to bluff or speculate; a lostness; a longing perhaps for home and safety. A torch might be helpful but we didn’t think to bring that, and anyway, it’s not that much use in fog – too much reflection. What we need at that moment is not a map or a torch but a compass, to enable us to press on in the right direction.   

It’s a relief when the curtain of fog is raised and the sun pierces through. Everything is clearly visible. We know exactly where we are again and we can see where we’re going. No more need to guess or pretend everything’s okay. In the aftermath it’s a small story to tell in the midst of a bigger story of life’s adventure.

Psalm 119:105 in The Message says

‘By your words I can see where I’m going. They throw a beam of light on my dark path’.

What I’ve learned over the years is that we may be able to bluff our way through much of life, pretending we know exactly what we’re doing, and where we’re going, when in reality we’ve lost our way. Without something to keep us on track, without some light on our path helping us avoid the potholes and pitfalls it’s easy to stumble. The good news is that God’s word can help us find our way again, especially if we’re in a fog of confusion or despair. Like a compass, it can keep us going in the right direction to finish the journey and help us find our way back home.

Image credit Ali Elliott via Unsplash