In the olden days (when I was young) when you asked for directions you would probably hear something like, “head north for about an hour until you see the river then go right for a while until you come to a bridge. Cross it and head east until you come to the town.” This is obviously very much unlike what we do now with GPS: “Proceed 3.4 miles then turn right.”…..”Turn right in .2 miles.”….”Turn right.”…
The difference is that we used to head a direction and watch for landmarks and signs that guided us in the next portion of our journey. We knew our ultimate goal but the journey was a matter of discovery along the way. With GPS we don’t even think about it. A robot could do what we do. And if you use Waze or Google Maps you are even directed around slowed traffic. You don’t have to think about where you’re going if you let Waze guide you.
I believe life should be more like ‘living’ directions than GPS. What we do every day and how we do it is an ongoing discovery of the people, events and places in our life. I am probably writing this to myself more than anyone else. With the pace of Southern California and my pattern of just getting to my destination, I am on autopilot most of the time. Even when I take a walk I probably have my ear buds in and am somewhere else in a podcast or story…not really present as I walk along the road surrounded by trees, flowers and life. I’m trying to change this pattern but apparently it is pretty ingrained in me.
This is not a snapshot of profound revelation. It isn’t a new idea, I know. But as I look at this simple compass I am reminded to ‘head north’ and to keep my eyes, my mind and my heart open to all that is before me. I will then begin to see both the beauty and the need around me. I will see nature and people in real time. And if my heart is in the right place I will find countless ways to show love and care for the people with whom I come in contact. I can make a difference. It doesn’t have to be huge to me, but often the smallest thing done in love can make a big difference to someone else.
Here’s what I mean…
I recently heard a dear friend of mine tell about coming upon a stalled car on a freeway off ramp. Cars had to navigate around both sides of the stalled car in order to get on their way. Traffic was backing up quickly even onto the freeway. Matt pulled over and got out to help. As he did, he saw several others do the same. In just moments they had pushed the car to safety off the ramp and traffic could proceed freely. I wonder how many cars had squeezed by, never really noticing the situation other than to be irritated. Gratefully, there were enough who chose to see, care and act. It was only minutes but it made a huge difference to the driver of that car and the many people caught in the backup.
In Luke 10:25-37 is the story of a man who had been beaten, robbed and left for dead. Several people walked by, even crossing the road to avoid having to walk right past the bloodied man lying there. But one man…just one man…saw, cared and acted. We call him the Good Samaritan. For him, the journey was as important as the destination. If I am ever in trouble I pray that there is someone like him who comes my way.
I am trying every day to slow down and intentionally be present on my daily journey through life. Whether I leave the house or not, am I aware of my surroundings and the people in my life? Are we aware of the goodness that makes up our home, family and friends? Are you grateful for the work that provides for you? This is really just a reminder to stop and smell the roses, and to help others do the same when you can.
Luke 10:25-37 Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?” 26 He answered, “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?” 27 He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.” 28 “Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you’ll live.” 29 Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?” 30-32 Jesus answered by telling a story. “There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man. 33-35 “A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’ 36 “What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?” 37 “The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded. Jesus said, “Go and do the same.”
Proverbs 11:25 The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.
Luke 6:37-38 “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”
John 15:12 “I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.