I like maps. Preferably big maps.
I like to study them and decide upon a route for my adventures. I like to get a general sense of the directions to my destination and then take off. I refer back to the map from time to time for affirmation that I am on the right path and, on occasion, to find another way to get to where I want to go.
I don’t like the old AAA “triptik.” In case you are unaware, the triptik was originally a plan for a trip that you could get via your AAA membership. It was a nice big map – chopped up into annoyingly small pieces and bound in a handy-dandy little spiral notebook. You would simply follow the map, one page at a time, until you arrived at your destination. It even had the route highlighted so you knew the best route.
I first learned of this loathsome device back in college when my roommate and I were preparing to travel across the country on spring break along with my girlfriend and her roommate (who was, of course, dating my roommate). We were going to be driving Troy’s car (that would be my roommate) and that prompted him to get on his mom’s AAA membership. He mentioned that he ordered a triptik. From central Oklahoma to West Virginia we followed that stupid triptik.
You see, the triptik is set up in such a way that allows you to see only a small portion of the route at a time. I hate that. I want to see the whole thing. I want to re-route or detour from time to time. I took no small amount of scolding from my traveling companions for continually trying to turn the pages to see what was coming on down the line.
(Let me simply point out that Troy and Cheryl were voice majors while I was a saxophone player. This may not mean much to you, but there is an innate opposition between my jazz-born desire to improvise my way through life and their ingrained compulsion for careful planning and preparation. This opposition was seen in numerous instances with which I shall not regale you at this time, but it was significant.)
When we arrived in WV to visit my soon-to-be in-laws, I was supposed to bring a devotional as we all shared with their church. I spoke from one of the passages that had already become a sort of keystone reference for our pending marriage.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
As I spoke that evening, it dawned on my that God’s plan for me was being delivered in a triptik – not a full map. He reveals a page at a time and lays out the path before us. He asks us to trust Him and quit depending upon what we understand. That sounds pretty simple. I’ve even had people tell me that God wouldn’t ask me to do something that made no sense.
My resonse: “Have you read the Bible?”
He said not to lean on our own understanding, but to acknowledge Him in all of our ways – our decisions, plans, assessments – and He will make the path clear and plain before us.
But, in our humanness, we think it has to fit our way of seeing and processing things. We want to see the whole path so that we can re-route our course. We want to be in control. That’s why I don’t like the triptik – it puts the planning and routing of my trip in the hands of the one who made the triptik. I don’t get to decide. I just obey. Or not.
What I’ve come to understand is that God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, asks us simply to walk in the way that He shows us and know that He is working out all of the details. He shows us, much like the triptik, one piece of the map at a time. I’ve experienced it time after time after time. I get a sense that I’m coming to the end of what He has shown me and, as I really seek to listen for His direction, I have to wrestle with the simple but giant question: do I trust Him to lead the way no matter what is on that next page?
Are you coming to the end of one page and wondering about the next? Are you willing to accept and follow whatever He has planned for you on the next page?
Do you trust Him with all that you are – instead of in your ability to figure things out? Will you let Him plot the course and show you step by step the path He has designed for you?
I still hate the stupid triptik, but it may have been one of the biggest lessons of my life.