So we headed down the busy road in the direction that seemed right. The street changed its name at least three times. No hotel. We stopped at a gas station, found a man sitting in his car who was willing to help. He didn't know the hotel but knew where the street was—or so he thought. Ten minutes later we pulled into a different hotel and they gave us good directions to their competitor. Turns out the hotel was off the main drag behind two restaurants on a street with no road sign. You wonder how they stay in business.
So then it was time for dinner. We have a favorite restaurant in that town, but it had been many years and things looked very different. The desk clerk gladly looked it up and handed us directions. And once again the street we were looking for was not there. We wound up at exactly the same gas station. This time we went inside and none of the workers there knew either the restaurant (it has been there for 50 years!) or the street. Finally, as we walked dejectedly out the door, a young man with a Smart Phone chased us down and looked it up for us. We weren't far away and the directions were simple.
Then it was time to return to the hotel. Based upon our memory of the man's phone map, the restaurant road ran parallel to the one the gas station was on and should have led us right back to the hotel road, coming out even closer to the hotel. But that road curved every which way and was full of forks and we came out somewhere entirely different—which we did not realize at first because now it was too dark to read straight signs and had begun to rain. By the time we figured out our error, we were so far out, no one could direct us. "What road? Never heard of it."
Finally someone had heard of it—the fourth one we asked, and we did make it back. What should have been a ten minute drive had taken over an hour, and we had gone through the gamut of emotions—from frustration to aggravation to desperation. Fear and hopelessness were just the corner, kept at bay by my stubborn refusal to become a drama queen, whining and blubbering my way into senseless hysteria.
But it made both of us stop and think about those who are really lost. What is it like to be out there looking for direction and getting no help at all? I'm afraid my view of that town will forever more be that none of the roads are straight, they all change names confusingly, and none of its populace has any idea where they themselves are either.
We all need to be like that young man with the Smart Phone, not only willing to help when asked, but going to the trouble of chasing down someone in obvious need. There are lost souls out there, people. Frustrated people, fearful people, desperate people who need our help. A lot of Christians are so wrapped up in themselves, in their own earthly destinations and goals, that they don't see those who are wandering around, hopelessly lost. And quite a few of them don't even know where they are either.
Pay attention today. Make sure you know where you are first and then be on the lookout for others.
I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you… (Rom 1:14-15)