God Doesn’t Provide Detailed MapQuest Directions

One of the things we all want is a little certainty. We all want to find something that is reliable and easy to wrap our hands around. This is why religious fundamentalism—regardless of variety—is so attractive. The allure of a set of beliefs that are the truth and nothing but the truth is too good to pass up in a world full of so much uncertainty.  It is true in religion; it is also true in politics. As we begin another election season, all the candidates (Trump being the most extreme) sound as if they have it all together. Given our anxiety about the issues of the day, we are often attracted to candidates who claim to have the answer to all our ills.

How contrary this is to living by faith. Living by faith presumes that we begin each day having at best a vague glimpse of where we are going and even less knowledge of how we will get there. Living by faith means we begin each day asking God to lead us and give us the strength to follow where God leads.  Living by faith means that we discover that when we ask God to lead, God doesn’t provide detailed “map quest” directions. Rather, God gives a nudge here, a nudge there, and sometimes apparently no nudge at all.  More often than not we just have to take the first step in some direction not knowing if it is the right direction at all. Not very attractive is it.  “God! Why don’t you just give me a detailed plan and I will follow it.”

The reality is that no detailed plan will be given.  However, we are given something else. What the scriptures tell us is this: Instead of a detailed plan, God gives us a guide in the person of the Holy Spirit. John tells us that this indwelling presence will lead us into all truth (John 16:13). Paul tells us that this Spirit is groaning inside us in sighs too deep for words (Romans 8:26-27). What do we need to do?  We need to slow down and sit still long enough so that we can discover that we aren’t alone. If we do that, we have the chance to discover that not only are we not alone, but that this companion helps us in our weakness.  And that even if we don’t know where we are going, maybe our companion knows the way.