Map Musing

Greetings beloveds! What have you been up to recently? Are you back to moving and shaking again? Have you been out and about? Perhaps even travelling again? It’s been on my mind and what I’ve been musing about this week. Okay, maybe not the travelling itself… but the mapping and planning. We’ve been driving around a lot lately … no big trips, but we are constantly plugging destinations into the ol’ Phone GPS. The “Global Positioning System” (yes, I had to look it up) contains 3 parts… the space system that uses something way out there to find your position in comparison to the whole world, the control system, that makes sense out of all that space place data, and then the user component (that’s you and me) who plug in what we want to know into our little personal maps. It’s a complex system but ever so helpful — until it’s not.

Have you ever entered an address only to “arrive at your destination” and not be where you wanted to be? It happened to us once across the border. Somehow we got led under a bridge underpass and down a dirt road to a dead-end stop next to a big chain link fence. Not the address we were hoping for. Or entered a setting with no tolls or highways and get wandering in circles because the most direct route was avoided? Or like me, with no data coverage and your GPS is useless because it is missing one of the “space” or “control” components? I know, I know, some days the old method of paper maps folded out on the roof of the car and highlighted or sharpie markered routes were easier and better. Or CAA “triptics”. Or what were those big yellow spiral-bound map books called that everyone had stashed in the sides of their car doors? Those were fun.

Cartography is generally considered to be the science and art of designing, constructing and producing maps. It includes almost every operation from original fieldwork to the final printing and marketing of maps.  I have visions of great pirates marking islands on ships as master seafarers of old. Or trailblazers traipsing through thick forests hacking away at overgrowth. Did you read my post about Dashrath Manijhi? He was a trailblazer. (Read about it here) I think Google does it now. Art or computer — it is for sure a needed skill. When they were younger, our kids loved to create and participate in scavenger hunts and treasure mapping. They even dabbled a little in geocaching and finding treasures hidden there by someone else. There is value in knowing about maps and how to get to where you need to be.

If you are like me, you like to know the route. You like to see what’s coming and when it’s coming. You want to be prepared for obstacles and time delays. You want to be in control of your final destination. You want to have a plan. We all know that that is not always the case. Space, controls, and often the end users invariably make mistakes or miss something. We enter bad data and get unfinished or incomplete results. Sometimes this means we miss the treasure at the end of the rainbow. Sometimes it means we have great adventures and discover new things. I suppose it depends on your perspective on the journey. The road less travelled, or the predictable and safe route?

Don’t you love it when there are clearly marked paths with signage and direction? We know that our Bible is God’s handbook in life. We understand that God has “given us the Way” through His scriptures, lessons and promises. We read verses about preparing a place for us and knowing the plans to prosper you and give hope to your future. If we look around we can also see the landmarks that God has placed along the path: a chance meeting here, a phone call there, a “circumstance” that leads us in one direction or another. We have to look for them as markers though. And sometimes we drive by too quickly to notice them.

How many times have I prayed for myself and others that God would show us a clear path, a distinct open or closed door, a sign to know which route is the best. Often I am out of range or have little data available on that life GPS… and I don’t get my controlled and direct route marked out in yellow highlighter. So I wait. And I try and look around and gather my bearings and read the signs as best I can. Then, the only way to know is to move forward and see where the path leads. A great adventure? Or a chain link fence under a concrete underpass? You can always re-calculate, re-calibrate and turn around. The final destination may just take a little longer. It’s worth the trip. Happy trails, friends!

Wind Beneath My Wings

road trip musingOur wayward firstborn was recently home from University for reading week.  It was lovely to have her, even though we have already given away her room to her younger brother.  She had to put up with the basement.  Nonetheless, on my trip to pick her up, the GPS app on my phone took me through some winding country roads.   I’ve made this two hour trip hundreds of times before, but for some reason that day, I was relying on my phone to pull me out of the back roads and get me to somewhere more familiar.  I seemed to be wandering in farmland for way too long… I began to pray that the power wouldn’t totally seep out of the phone before I arrived.  I was lucky — all of a sudden I came upon civilization and breathed again.

It was a dull day when I made that drive all on my own.  The skies were overcast and the wind was whipping around as rain threatened the skies but didn’t appear.  At two different stretches of highway, we seemed to have a “leaf storm”.  The leaves blew around the vehicle in great swirls and gusts as if they were snowflakes driven by winter winds led by Jack Frost himself.  It was quite unusual, really.  Yellow leaves mostly, from the ash trees of the area.  Twice I seemed to be the only one on the back roads, engulfed in this inferno of flying leaves.  Like something out of the Wizard of Oz.  I was not in Kansas anymore.  Or anywhere I was familiar with either, for that matter.

When the leaf storms subsided, I took note of the fields surrounding me.  I was taking the opportunity to reflect a little as the two hours of peace and quiet was a welcomed rest for my busy soul.  (And truth be told,  I was trying to figure out where the heck I was with respect to my final destination!)  The farmers fields were a dull yellow… dry corn husks left to be plowed under soon.  Flat, drab, and lifeless,  surrounded by the autumn forests of reds, greens, and browns.  Houses dotted the perfectly paved roads.  Nothing of great note.  Except for two black silhouettes on the horizon.wind beneath my wings

At two different points on my drive, I witnessed two giant birds soaring in the wind.  They were probably hawks or falcons.  Maybe one was an osprey — we often see their giant nests atop telephone poles in the area.  The first one I noticed seemed to be gliding effortlessly through the field.  Guided along with the wind beneath its wings… seemingly without a care in the world.  The other was also majestically soaring — but swooped up and down almost as if it was having fun in the windstorm!  Have you ever stuck your arm out the window of a moving car?  Okay… not recommending it … not safe…. don’t do this at home… blah blah… But if you ever have… you will know the feeling of the wind beneath your “wings”.  That pressure that pushes you back but encourages you forward… and you dip and rise your hand like in the commercials of pretty girls in convertibles advertising some vacation spot in sunny Aruba.

It struck me, as I watched this big bird for the brief few seconds as I drove past, that this is what Isaiah was talking about when he says that those whose hope is in the Lord, will renew their strength and soar on wings like eagles!  (Isaiah 40).  This big bird was dipping and diving and seemed to actually be having fun in the wind!  So often we get caught up in our daily grinds of work, ministry, kids, etc., and life seems to be taking us on the winding back roads.  We get overwhelmed by the “leaf storms” that blow our way and get confused by our whereabouts in what should be the familiar.  We get tired.  Yet, God is so much bigger than we can even imagine.   He becomes the wind beneath our wings.  Then we are carried and soar.  Dipping and diving as our strength is renewed yet again.soar like eagles

Apparently there are 4 different species of eagles in Palestine.  It’s no wonder that the bible authors make reference to their power, might and majesty, and uses them as our example for the never tiring Lord who renews our strength.  I’m pretty sure my birds were not eagles, but big birds nonetheless.   Even the Bette Midler song from way back, makes the bible reference of soaring eagles.  Who is your hero today?  Who is the wind beneath your wings when your strength is failing?  Rest well in knowing that God is big enough to carry you through the storms and uncertainties.   Enjoy the dips and dives as you swoop through the dull fields of leftovers.  May He be the wind beneath your wings!