GETTING LOST

I’m back!  I’m back!  For the past two weeks I have been lost in a miasma of forms and figures.  As my sister’s conservator, I am required, each year, to submit a documented report of all financial activity down to the penny.  I am convinced that all government forms are purposefully incomprehensible and confusing.

I sit for hours looking at the same column of figures trying to decide where they fit on this form, and wondering if anyone will ever really look at it.  Or is it just one of those “by the book” things that must be done.  I AM LOST!

Talking about being lost—I remember my first days in Brussels, Belgium all those years ago.  I had always lived in smaller towns.  Now I was in a city of two million people.  There was no rhyme or reason to the layout of the city, and the traffic was nuts.  I was almost afraid to drive, but I had an apartment mate, another single woman missionary.  Ginny had been there for a number of years, so surely she knew her way around.  Didn’t she?

On Saturday, we decided to do some shopping in the city center.  The “Bon Marche” and “Innovation” were two large department stores I was longing to explore.  Arriving at city center, we drove up and down and around the narrow cobblestone streets until we found a parking place.  After hours of looking and oohing and aahing and buying, arms loaded with our purchases, we headed back to the car.  I had no idea where it was, so I just followed Ginny.  After forty-five minutes of wandering up one street and down another, I finally voiced my doubt.

“You have no idea where the car is,” I exclaimed.

Leaning against a brick wall, my friend replied, “Now don’t get upset.  Pretty soon I’ll see something familiar.”

WE WERE LOST!

When friends from the States came to visit, we took them to see the “Cheese Market in Alkmar, in the Netherlands.  Alkmar is sometimes called “The Venice of the North.”  Canals crisscross the city running down the middle of the streets.  We found a parking place by one of those canals.  Before leaving the car, I suggested we write down the name of the street on which we were parked.  I had learned my lesson.

Ginny whipped out a pad and wrote, and we headed toward the Cheese Market.  After several enjoyable hours, it was time to start back to Brussels.

“Where are we parked,” I asked my friend.

I stared at the paper she handed me.  On it, Ginny had written “Voetpad,” translated “Footpath.”  Every street had a footpath.

WE WERE LOST!

At another time, a friend suggested, “Let’s just go around this block and then head north.  That will be faster.”

“No,” I objected.

Sometimes you could wind up twenty miles from home by going around a block in Brussels.  I preferred the familiar way.

It is hard to get lost these days.  We have so many helps:  maps, charts, compasses, global positioning systems and smart phones.  I read somewhere that “We have an entire generation of men who will never know what it is to refuse to ask for directions.”

However, even Siri and Google are sometimes wrong.

Getting lost, being lost or totally lost are popular expressions for someone in a desperate situation.  Insecurity is once again one of the defining features of our age. We are raising a generation, many of whom have no purpose, no direction and no hope for the future.  One does not have to be lost spatially, as I often was in Brussels, to be lost in life.

I am grateful that many years ago, with God’s help, I charted a course designed to reach a particular destination.  I WAS LOST until, at God’s bidding, I stepped onto the “footpath of life.” This course encompasses every area of my life. That is the beauty of it!

Each morning I read the guide book for the path I follow.  I talk to my guide, and He talks to me.  As long as I follow His directions, I stay on course headed for that wondrous destination.   Are there ever any problems, disappointments, or difficulties?  Of course!   We still live in an imperfect world.

Truth is.  I don’t like being lost.  I hate the uncertainty and the wasted time.

In Jeremiah 6:16, The Lord admonishes us.  “Stand in the old ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls…”

In Psalm 16:11, David declares his faith in the God he follows.  “You will show me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

We must learn to pray with the Psalmist David, in Psalms 25:4. “Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths.”

There need be no fear of ever being lost while following Him.

 

Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!

I DO HEREBY RESOLVE!

Self-improvement is a shared American Hobby.  That’s why more than 40% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions.

Charles Lamb, a writer from the 18th century, said, “New Year’s Day is every man’s birthday, simply meaning that no matter what a mess we made of 2017, the New Year gives us another chance to get it right.  We somehow believe, somehow hope, that we can turn over a new leaf, make a concerted effort, and finally accomplish our greatest desires.

We promise to lose weight, quit smoking, learn something new, eat healthier, read the Bible, get out of debt, spend more time with family, travel to new places, take things in stride, volunteer, and be kinder.

But in spite of all the good intentions, only a tiny fraction of us keeps our resolutions.  It is estimated that just 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals.  How many New Year’s resolutions have you broken?

Why do so many people fail at keeping their New Year’s promises?

I believe that many times the goals we set are too magnanimous, too extreme, and often too vague dooming them to failure.  Shooting for the moon can be so psychologically daunting, that we never get off the launching pad, and our intentions die before taking the first step.

The other night, when I couldn’t sleep, I turned on the TV. There was a man talking about New Year’s resolutions.  He shared a formula that I believe might really work.

  1. Instead of making a vague promise, make a plan.
  2. Commit to your plan.
  3. Sacrifice whatever is necessary.
  4. Accept the consequences.

Losing weight is the number one New Year’s resolution, so let’s apply this formula to that goal.

Instead of saying I’m going to lose weight, make a plan—no potato chips, chocolate, or ice cream for six weeks.  If this seems impossible, then you must ask, “Am I really serious about losing.  What is your greatest temptation?  Be specific.

Commit to your plan.  No one can do it for you.

Will there be sacrifices?  Of course!  Will it be worth it?  Of course!

Be honest about what you are doing.  Years ago, when I joined Weight Watchers and lost a ton of weight, I prayed every day, “God, I’m doing everything I am told to do.”And that was absolutely true.  I was serious about it.  My prayer continued, “Please make my body respond as it should.”

No matter what your resolution or plan, you should be able, somehow, to measure the results.  There will be good consequences.

Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a continuation of life with all the wisdom and understanding that our experiences have brought to us.

I must admit that I do not make New Year’s resolutions, but, on a daily basis, I do examine my heart and make life corrections according to God’s plan.  For, in my relationship with God I do not have to wait until a new year begins to make a new beginning.  With the rising of the sun, I can make a new start.  Repentant for my failure, I latch on to God’s strength and take my next faltering step knowing that:

“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  Lamentations 3:22-23.

 At the age of twenty, Jonathan Edwards, a great preacher of the first half of the eighteenth century, made a long list of resolutions concerning every area of his life and ministry.  He reminded himself to reread his resolutions once each week, and he prayed this prayer.

              “Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat Him by His grace to enable me to keep these resolutions, so far as they are agreeable with His will, for Christ’s sake.”

 Jonathan Edward’s most impressive and important resolutions determined everything else he did the rest of his short life.  He wrote:

Resolution One—I will live for God.  Resolution Two—If no one else does, I still will.”

Let us, you and I, make that same commitment for 2018 understanding that without God’s help we can do nothing of worth.

With that kind of commitment, you can write it in your heart that every day, not just New Year’s Day, is the best day in the year.

With warmest wishes, I pray for you that this will be a crowning year in your life—that you will know God better—love Him more dearly–walk closely with Him—serve him more sincerely, and enjoy His great blessing.

 

Remember, the sun will come out tomorrow!