I am notorious for my lack of a sense of direction.
Just the other day one of our photographers at the newspaper caught me going south when I should’ve been going north to an assignment.
He laughed about it, as did I. But there have been many times I’ve given him wrong directions to an assignment and he hasn’t laughed.
Even with a GPS and written directions I still get it wrong six out of 10 times.
I tend to go with my gut. I’ll think, “I know I’m supposed to go north, but north feels like east, so I think I’d better go west.” Only I don’t use the names of the directions. I just turn right or left or go straight.
Yes, I know that doesn’t make any sense, which is why I’m constantly getting lost. That’s also why I’ve learned to keep a full tank of gas in my car. Once I ended up out of gas in a cauliflower field back in the days before cell phones and hitched a ride with a stranger.
Anyway, a few weeks ago I was invited to a breakfast meeting with some women from a church the next county over. I’d been to their town before, but not their church. Because I’m woefully directionally impaired, I printed out the Mapquest directions prior to leaving the house.
Unfortunately, I misread the time the breakfast meeting was scheduled to begin and left the house with only 15 minutes to get to the church 35 miles away.
Fortunately for cell phones, I called ahead and told the woman who had invited me that I’m an idiot and I’d be late, but I’d be there.
And then I headed east. I think. (Well, the sun was in my eyes.)
Like I said, I’d been to the town, but not to the church. So, I switched on my GPS and grabbed my printed directions — which didn’t match the GPS directions — and trusted my inner compass, all of which got me lost.
I drove one road, the actual road the church was on, all the way to the end — the wrong end — and then turned around and drove it the other direction.
Both Mapquest and my GPS had said to go that way to begin with, and I did for about a half-mile, but for some reason it didn’t feel right, so I turned around.
I should’ve kept going, because the church was ahead about another half-mile, but I didn’t.
Meanwhile, the women had gone ahead and ate brunchy breakfasty stuff without me.
By the time I arrived, the meeting was almost over, but at least I made it. I didn’t know anyone there and they had invited me to meet me in advance of an event they were having where I’m the guest speaker, so I’m not sure what kind of impression I made or if they’ll wise up and dis-invite me.
However, they were gracious and fed me leftover fruit and muffins.
Now for the point of all my ramblings:
Many times when I’m driving and lost, I panic. Mostly I get angry at myself for messing up yet again. I think, “You’re so stupid! When will you ever change? I hate this about you!”
I think I should be different; I should be better, but I’m not. Most likely I won’t ever get any better at my sense of direction.
But that morning, even as I was driving around not sure of where to turn or not turn, I knew that God knew exactly where I was.
I stopped on the side of the road, took a breath and said, “Lord, you know where I need to go and I’m not sure if I’m ever going to make it there and it’s getting scary. All I can do is trust you, which I know shouldn’t be a last resort, but the first place I turn.”
I put my car in gear and drove and made it to the place I needed to be.
It was and is a metaphor for my life.
“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,” as the hymn goes.
I, too, am prone to wander and meander, go south when I should go north, turn this way instead of that way.
But I am confident that God will never let go of me, no matter what detours I take.
Because I am his, he will get me to where I’m supposed to be.
He will not let me stray so far as to be lost forever, and I know that he will, he will bring me safely home.
Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria - I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at (352) 564-2927, Monday through Thursday, or via email at email@example.com.