| || |
Jesus, My GPS
Have you ever felt as though you were out, alone in a tiny boat in the middle of a huge expanse of water, as the fog of life rolled in on you, totally obscuring your view? At such times, do you know how to connect up with your guiding, protecting Savior to get you safely back to shore?
During a recent vacation in the Adirondacks, a real-life experience brought that word picture into sharp focus and clarity. This challenging encounter spoke a word so memorable and moving that it is worth sharing with anyone who feels adrift and alone, needing to find their way back to safety.
Stillness and Serenety
Our family was blessed to spend a week at Lake Pleasant, NY this past summer. There were countless wonderful aspects of our time that week. Personally, one of the best parts, was the opportunity to quietly head out to the shore at a little after 5 AM each morning for a kayak ride on the lake, before beginning the daily routine. Not much more refreshing than to be all alone, spending quiet moments in communion with Jesus. Some of the most beautiful times I've had in years… Every day, watching the moon set and the sun rise, in total stillness and serenity. The hush and quiet was only broken now and then by a truck in the distance that would roar down the road in that remote town. (Where DO those trucks go at 5:15 in the morning out in the middle of nowhere?)
While reading the Bible, writing in a journal and praying, the Lord would refresh my soul and spirit. Every day, the scriptures and surroundings spoke sweet and wonderful things.
One of the most breath-taking things I saw was early in the week, while heading out of the room, which faced west, overlooking the huge lake. The moon was setting at that moment, and was situated right over the horizon, deep orange in color. I stood transfixed, not wanting to go back in, to ask if I could get a camera (the rest of the family was still sleeping), and knowing I might never see such a sight for the rest of my life … so I simply took it all in, awestruck. Later in the week, I was sure to bring a camera each morning! :) This picture is from the next morning.
Moon Set Over the Lake
It was amazing as the days went by, how the moon's position in the sky would change, getting higher and higher at that time of morning (I never did see that breath-taking orange moon again…) Every day's beauty was unique and mystical, as the mist would lazily linger on the mountains in the distance, and the dawn's colors would caress the sky.
By far, though, the most memorable day was quite unlike the other days. It was similar in timing, stillness, solitude and connection, but contained very little awe-inspiring beauty.
Plot Your Course
We were due to leave for home on Saturday morning, directly after breakfast (we were staying at Camp-of-the-Woods, and they have a weekly turnover of visitors, switching during the time between breakfast and lunch each Saturday.) My husband had graciously agreed to wait until the morning to put the kayaks back on the car, so we would have the opportunity to go out for one last ride. So out I headed, again, shortly after 5 AM, having a good hour and a half before I'd need to get back to be ready for breakfast.
That day was phenomenally still and quiet, most likely because it was a Saturday, so not even the distant background noises of an early weekday world invaded the silence. I did notice a truck or two, and again asked where THEY were heading that early on a Saturday. Otherwise, TOTAL serenity. The morning was misty, with the moon beginning to descend, hanging securely in its place, up above the shawl of mist that hung like a robe over the drowsy lake. As I headed out to a spot that would be conducive to watching the sun rise later in the morning, the sight of that moon shining above the foggy mist surrounding the lake caused me to write the following in my journal (realizing that if I could see the moon setting, I could know where the sun would rise, on the opposite shore) :
The fog has rolled in, and all I can really see is the moon adorned in a misty halo … and Jesus says:
'Dear child, when the fog has settled in on your life, and you know not which way to go, or where is the shore and safe harbor, turn you eyes to Me and what you know to be true of Me. I am as immovable and consistent as the heavenly bodies are to you. I do not go off course… So, plot YOUR course according to MY truth and what you know to be true of Me. Let My truth keep you aimed in the best direction.' "
While communing with Jesus, reading the scriptures and soaking in His presence (since little else was perceptible or visible), the position of the moon, and later the sunrise seemed to be a sure anchor to help navigate back to shore.
At one point, I looked over my shoulder to see the moon. Yet there was one problem; as the time had passed, indeed the moon had begun to SET, and had slipped under the cover of the fog. Looking all around, it became apparent that NOTHING was visible except a smoke-screen of fog in every direction. At that point, the thought also occurred that I had no idea of what the weather was supposed to be like that day. What WAS quite clear was that the water was no longer still and serene, and had begun to get a bit choppy. Perhaps looking for a brightening in the sky would show the direction of the sunrise, but was the darkness in any part of the sky due to a storm brewing? Do you know how hard it is to row a small kayak when the waves kick up, and how easy it would be to tip over if they got really intense?
The realization quickly settled in that I was COMPLETELY at the Lord's mercy. I listened eagerly for the sound of a truck or car, ANYTHING that would help me position myself in the little kayak. NOTHING. Pure stillness and quiet, except for the waves lapping at the sides of the boat. Yes, a silent Saturday morning… I'm sure I re-read the words in my journal, and was grateful that even though I could no longer SEE those heavenly bodies, that Jesus was indeed STILL immovable and consistent, and His love was enough to tether me safely to His side….
The one thing, in retrospect, that I wish I had done was to THANK the Lord in the midst of the moment, FOR the challenge, because recently I had heard in many ways that the struggles in our lives are the very things that the Lord USES to teach us, lead us and strengthen us (Romans 5:3-5, James 1:2-5, Hebrews 12:7-11). If I did say "thank You", it was a quick and passing prayer, as the rest of the prayer became one of letting Him know that I knew that I was TOTALLY in His hands, and praying for Him to lead me safely to shore.
It is hard to say how much time passed. There was time for prayer, a little song, lots of quiet listening for trucks and scanning the sky for any sign of brightening or shore. I'd row in one direction for a while, then something would make me think rowing in a different direction was warranted. It was impossible to know if those rowing efforts were bringing the kayak closer to shore, or even further out into the middle of the lake.
Finally, at one point, something in the distance appeared to be trees on a shoreline. After rowing in that direction, it was a thrill to realize that it was no mirage. Indeed, they WERE trees. Only problem … it was the wrong shore! Well, at least I was pretty sure that by hanging close to the land, eventually I would make it back to camp. No telling which way was the right direction, and my guess would have been to go to the right. If that hunch were wrong, I might end up traveling around a lake approximately 10 miles around.
Guiding, Protecting Savior
Not long after, somehow, miraculously, a boat appeared, coming out of the fog, toward the shore. I could barely believe my eyes. I don't know WHO would be out on a lake that early in the morning on a totally socked-in day, where you could only see a few yards ahead of you (except maybe loony girls like I :), but by the grace of God, there it was, a boat coming closer. I flagged them down, a man and woman in some sort of small motor boat. I asked if they knew where Camp of the Woods was, they said yes, that if I went toward shore and then hung a LEFT, went down to a curve in the shoreline and made another left, I would end up right where I wanted to be. (So much for my directionally-challenged brain that figured I should go RIGHT:)!
The man said casually as they passed "Yes, it is quite a foggy morning out there … We have a GPS." As I passed them again on my way back to camp, my heart welled up with gratitude and thankfulness, and I said to them: "YOU were my GPS!".
As I hugged the shoreline, out came my hubby for HIS ride that morning, and I urged him to stay close to shore. He of course, already KNEW not to go out into the middle of a lake in the fog…. For me, a lesson learned that will not be easily forgotten, for sure!
I was SO GRATEFUL to get back (and BTW, I somehow miraculously still had enough time to get ready for breakfast:). Over the coming days, as I pondered the whole thing, I realized that the deepest, most profound and lasting lesson I learned that whole week happened on that morning in which I could see virtually NOTHING with my earthly eyes.
I read my journal entry, and realized that it's one thing to depend on Jesus when we can SEE His consistent presence hanging out above the "fog" in our lives. It's quite another to trust by FAITH that He is still consistent, even when the smoke-screen of life obscures our vision TOTALLY, and we can no longer hear His voice clearly or see His form to lead us.
Jesus, My GPS
I am SO grateful that in those dark moments of life, He resides deep in my heart, standard equipment included in the formation of every believer's heart… My Guiding, Protecting Savior, or my GPS, so to speak. I know it was He Who brought me back safely to shore. He used that couple's physical GPS to provide my physical direction, but His Spirit was the true GPS.
So I ask you, if you have moments when life seems to throw a foggy smoke-screen all around you--do you have Jesus in your heart directing you when your eyes can't be trusted? If that GPS equipment isn't standard in your soul, it is possible to ask Him to come into your heart and become such a guiding presence.
Another thing that touches my heart … that couple went out on a FOGGY morning; nothing to see. Yet they had their GPS. I don't know what their purpose was in being out there. Unbeknownst to them, surely part of their purpose was to direct ME to the desired destination. Perhaps those of US who HAVE the GPS in our hearts are called to go out INTO the fog to rescue those who are aimlessly floundering around, not knowing how to get safely to shore. There may be little for us to "see" out there; and isn't that Jesus' call to "lay down our lives for our friends" as He did (John 15:13)? Let us head out, by His grace, with His Guiding, Protecting Spirit securely residing in our hearts, and guide other lost souls safely to shore.
| || |