follow directions – and be surprised

I was driving through the mountains of Virginia this week on my way to Danville for a meeting with a customer.  I stayed overnight in Waynesboro, VA since I left late on Monday, and wanted to spread the driving out a bit.  That left me with an fairly short (two hours or so) drive to Danville, and I set out early to get there in time for my meetings.

So I set my Garmin with the address of my customer, and headed out over the hills.  Being somewhat familiar with the route, I followed the GPS as it took me off the main Interstate to a State Highway that cut about fifteen miles of the trip.  I followed the two lane road as it headed up to the top of the mountain and wasn’t surprised when it put me briefly on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The last time I made this trip, I went straight up and over the hill, and down to Highway 29 toward Lynchburg.  But this time the GPS said to take a different route and I decided to take follow its instructions.

Well, I came to the road where it said to turn left to go down the other side of the mountain, and it turned out to be a narrow gravel road that shortly disappeared into the woods! Knowing that I had built enough time into my travels, I was curious to see where this went, so I proceeded to follow the directions that I was being provided with by “Olivia” (the Australian accent of the computerized voice in the Garmin, made me name it Olivia – Olivia Newton Garmin).

And so began a hairy, hair-pin infused, gravel kicking ride down the mountain that anyone would have thought I was insane to take.  No shoulder, no guard rails, and rarely more than enough width for a single vehicle.  I passed one driver on the way down, a hunter standing by his pick up truck.  Imagine what this guy must have thought as he saw me pass, a guy in a Chevy Impala with New Jersey plates, dressed in a suit.  Maybe his wave as I went by was a “good morning, nice day” wave, but I think it was more of a “hope you make it to the bottom OK, but I think you’re crazy…”

It took me about twenty minutes to go four and a half miles, but I saw some of the most beautiful scenery ever, including a once in a lifetime sunrise over the ridge.  I wish I could have captured what my GPS screen looked like.  I never saw so many tight squiggles on one stretch of road before.  When the gravel finally met pavement, I stopped to take a couple of pictures up the road from which I had just come.  I made it to the bottom and continued on my way.   But as I drove, I thought about what this meant to follow instructions, even if it’s scary and doesn’t go in the direction you think it should.

Kind of like following Jesus.  We have this book of instructions, God’s Word, the Holy Bible, and in it we are given a wealth of information, instruction, and guidance for our life.  But the Lord says to read and apply His Word daily.  We may find that following it does not bring us in the direction that we think it will when we start our journey, but it may test our nerve, our will, and our stamina.  And that takes perserverance and more importantly, faith.  We may wonder where it is leading us, and that can be unnerving and cause us much consternation.

But then again, we may get the most incredible views, and when we look back on where we traveled, we may just have some wonderful experiences to share with those around us.  A chance at fellowship in the simple stories of our life. I was blessed by heeding the instructions of my GPS.  How much more blessed am I when I walk with Jesus and follow the instructions of His Word.

“Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord”  (Proverbs 16:20)

How can we share this journey?  Maybe it is as simple as relating a story such as I just shared.  Try that one out on a colleague sometime…

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