Probably because I grew up in that area, even if it did look very different back then, my sense of direction was just fine when we came out after our meal. For one thing, I knew that turning left onto Fowler without a light, especially during the remaining minutes of rush hour, was a no-go.
"I wonder if there is a back way," I mused aloud.
Eight year old Silas immediately piped up from the backseat. "Turn right out of the back of the parking lot, go to the next street and turn right again." Of course he gets his superb directional skills from his grandma!
So I repeated his directions to Keith who could not possibly hear him from the front seat. He looked a little askance, but did as he was told. But then we came to 56th Street and by then, good old Granddad was totally turned around. He had no idea where he really was. I recognized immediately that though we needed to turn left, there was no break in the median there to do so. We would have to turn right, go to the Fowler light, and do a U-turn in order to be headed in the correct direction. And that light was not even a block down the street in the middle of the thick traffic.
"Make sure you have enough room to get all the way across," I told him. "You will have to make a U-turn at the light to get to church."
"What are you talking about? A U-turn?"
"Yes, at the light."
"I don't want to turn there. It's the wrong place.
"No, it isn't. The church turn-off is behind us."
"Are you sure? It's just down a block or two on the left."
"No! You have to turn around. You have to make a U-turn at the light."
"But why do I want to do that?" he asked, thoroughly flummoxed.
Once again the 8 year old voice piped up from the backseat. "Because that's how to get there," he said with simple logic.
At that point I laughed out loud. "Yes. That's how to get there."
"No it's not. I shouldn't have to make a turn at all."
"Yes, you do," and by then the car was in a bit of an uproar because he was starting to pull out and the traffic was way too heavy for him to get all the way across into the left turn lane before he hit the light. "All the way, all the way, all the way!" the boys and I were shouting, and that is exactly what Keith did, having given up on his idea of where we were, though I think I still hear the echo of a horn and a screech of tires behind us as he did it.
As we sat there in our hard-won left lane, waiting to make a U-turn, Keith said very quietly, "What street is this?" and when I told him he added, "Ohhhhh," with dawning realization. "Well, it's a good thing someone knew where we were."
And once again that little voice piped up from the backseat, "Always listen to the guy in the backseat." Then glancing over at his little brother he added, "On the right."
We have laughed at that story for a year and a half now. "Always listen to the guy in the backseat," one of us says, and then in unison, "On the right!" And the little guy had a point. When you are lost, when you don't know what to do, when you don't know where to go or who to turn to, ask "the guy in the backseat." In this case, that metaphor stands for someone who has been there, perhaps several times, as Silas had, someone who knows the ropes, someone who can lead you through the maze of possible routes safely to the other side.
Too many times we go to the wrong people. We go to the ignorant, the naïve, the ones who are in just as much trouble as we are. We steadfastly refuse to approach anyone who can really help us. And why? Could it be because we know we won't like the answer we will get? Could it be because it simply goes against the grain to let that particular person know we are having trouble? Could it be because, "No one really understands what it's like." Are we really that arrogant?
God created the church in his "manifold wisdom" (Eph 3:10), first, to hold forth the light of the gospel and save the world. But also so we can help one another, so we never have to fight the battles alone. Look around you some Sunday morning. You will see a group of people who, between them, have met almost every trial of life. You have a wealth of information and help at your beck and call, not to mention a raft of prayers going up daily if you only ask for them.
Sometimes your life is a crazy intersection at rush hour, with cars whizzing past and a left lane far across four lanes of that dangerous traffic, the very lane you need to be in to make a U-turn that might save your soul. Listen to the guy in the backseat and quit trying to figure it out alone.
Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. (Gal 6:2).
Now we that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. (Rom 15:1).