“In 500 feet turn right,” intoned the mechanized disembodied voice designed, I presume, to sound calm and reassuring. The directions from my GPS are served up methodically, with no sense of urgency. She doesn’t screech at me or raise her voice if I miss a turn. She never gets cranky or holds a grudge when I lose my cool. She doesn’t pick fights.
The only screeching in the car that afternoon came from me.
“What comes next?” I demanded, addressing my son slouched in the passenger seat, his attention on the smart phone that tethered him to his peers.
“Turn right,” he snarked unhelpfully, mimicking the GPS lady as he glanced from his phone to the GPS screen.
“I know that part,” I enunciated through clenched teeth. “What’s the next step after that? What are the next three or four steps? I need to know where I’m going!”
And with that pronouncement, God cleared his throat.
No. No. No. Surely, you don’t mean me?
(Don’t call me Shirley.)
Just because I want to know where I’m going doesn’t mean I have a control problem, does it?
Oh but it does.
I tried arguing. I’m not the one with control issues. That’s my abusive ex-husband. I am so not controlling! I’m the laid back one. I go with the flow. I’m easy going. Flexible.
I hate not knowing where I am going. When I’m driving, I’m limited to the directions my GPS offers me one step at a time. And that is thoroughly inadequate. I want to, need to, know what’s coming after that. I don’t trust the GPS to give me time to change lanes, navigate around traffic, or prepare myself for the next move. I don’t trust the GPS to get me to my destination. I want to have some general idea, an overview, of where I’m going.
In the car that afternoon, as I failed to keep my cool with the mechanized voice of the GPS and the sarcastic voice of my teenage son, I cringed inwardly as I realized my attitude towards my GPS is a great analogy for how I trust God. I don’t trust the GPS, but I would never say I don’t trust God. At least not out loud. But my behavior, my feelings, and my emotions illustrate my struggle. I’m frustrated with the lack of clear directions.
“’For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11)
God’s got plans. I know that. But why can’t he tell me what they are? What would it hurt for me to know just a little bit more? Why can’t I see a few turns down the road?
I’m a big picture kind of girl, not encumbered by details. “Good enough” is my easy going mantra. How can I have a control issue? Control is not my problem.
Since I left my abusive marriage I have recognized that my ex-husband has control issues. His inability to control the people around him led to his angry outbursts and violence. He’s the one with the control problem. And I assumed I was immune from that particular flaw. But God is telling me otherwise.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5,6)
But it’s so hard! If there were a “whine” font, I’d be using it here. I just want to know where I’m headed. In a general sense, you know? It is so hard to trust God. So hard. And I really want to understand this thing I’m going through. If I knew ahead of time what I was supposed to be learning, maybe I could speed things along. I think I could help God.
And this is a good a place as any to remember that the journey is the point. Not the destination.
“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16)
And that’s got to be good enough. He will not abandon me. He won’t lose his cool if I miss a turn. Or when I get anxious because I can’t see it yet. I’ve got the “not understanding” part down. So I will trust him.
With all my heart.