A navigation app for the long road trip of life

Road trip of life

What do you do when you have a massive failure with your favorite navigation app?  I’m talking about the kind of failure like when Apple Maps doesn’t show the road that you’re on. It just looks like a greyed-out farm field on the map while you’re cruising down a brand-new road.  

Or even worse, the dots on Google Maps keep bouncing up and down while trying to connect because there’s no cell reception.  What do you do when you’re not sure exactly where you are and have no idea where you’re headed?

I have this love/hate relationship with navigational software.

I prefer to know exactly where I am and where I’m going (Don’t act like you don’t have the desire for that kind of control over your environment also). For this reason, I love Apple and Google Maps. They help me to have a good understanding of where I’m located and the direction I’m headed, even in a totally unfamiliar city. 

But, because I desire to know the entire route at one time, I also have a hate relationship with Google and Apple Maps.  They never let me see the entire, detailed route in one view. When I zoom out, I can see the entire route- from start to end point- but the details are so small that they become completely irrelevant.

When I zoom in, I can only see where I am and where I’m supposed to turn next. None of the mapping apps allow me to see the entire route in detail all at once. 

Maybe it’s a control thing that makes me frustrated with mapping apps. However, some of this was heavily influenced by my experiences in the United States Army navigating through dense forest and triple canopy jungles. I was trained to study a map in fine detail.

I learned to memorize a route, not just the start and end point, but every terrain feature and turn along the way, and I long for this in mapping apps. There may or may not be a big market for this out there, but I know at least one guy who would buy an app that allows me to see the entire route with detailed instructions all at the same time. If you want to make millions of dollars, maybe you should design this app!

Are you with me so far?  Good. Hang on tight! Now I want to take a sharp turn with you.

This article today is not talking about driving your car to an unknown destination. Rather, I want to use the rest of this article to talk about your future. I like to think about life as a journey. You could call it a “lifelong journey”. Do you see what I just did there? 😀  

I want to use the rest of this article to describe the parallels between a long road trip and life.

Know what’s in the rearview mirror

There are ups and downs on every road in life. You’ve had some good days and some bad days. Life brings some hard curves and difficult roads to all of us.  The view in the rearview mirror is clear, because we instinctively remember the road we’ve just traveled.  

The challenge with life is, you can’t live it looking in the rearview mirror. Of course our past experiences shape who we are today; they may even go with us into the future. However, the challenge is not allowing our past to hold us back as we go into the future. Don’t live life looking in the rearview mirror!

The road signs tell me where I am

When you pay attention and know what you’re looking at, life often gives enough road signs to give you an accurate picture of where you are right now. Maybe you’re going through a difficult point in your marriage.  Maybe it’s time for you to make a big career decision. Perhaps you just graduated from school, and life is an entirely new road in front of you this summer.

Most of us have an accurate picture of where we are on the map of life right now. The challenge for many people is, they don’t like what the road signs are showing them about this stage of life.

Some of you reading this article today are going through a rough patch of road right now. You are entirely aware of how tough life is right now, and you’re looking for the nearest exit to get your off this road.

Before you rush on to the next leg of life’s journey, make sure you know exactly where you are and have a healthy understanding of what got you here. You’re not ready to take the exit and move on to the next road of life until you have an accurate picture of where you are and how you got here.

No idea what’s around the next turn

Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard once said that life can only be understood by looking backward, but it must be lived looking forward. Every human being faces the same challenge of not knowing what’s around the next corner in life.

Life can get very scary when you’re on a difficult stretch of road right now and the next turn looks even worse.

I think it’s a good thing that we cannot see what’s around the next corner of life. If you and I could see the entire map, some of us would just quit the journey before we even attempted to travel down that difficult road.

Trust the one who can see the whole route

I wrote this whole article today to ask you this question (don’t answer it too quickly; I want you to really think about it): What are you looking to for navigation guidance in life? This is one of the most important questions you will ever answer.

Don’t kid yourself.  No one goes through life without looking for advice from time to time.  I want you to take a moment and determine if you’re looking for guidance from the wrong sources.  Many of the people, podcasts, or professional counselors that we look to for guidance in life can offer us only a small glimpse into the future.  

No one can see the whole route of your life. Only someone who exists outside of time has that kind of knowledge.

I want to challenge you to look to the one who created you and has complete knowledge about your past, present, and future all at the same time to guide your life.  Only God in Heaven is worthy of steering you through the turns of your life.  He is the one who can see the entire map. 

Psalm 121:7-8 describes a God who loves you and longs to protect you from the difficulties of life. Verse 8 says that he can protect you when you go out and when you come in. This is “traveling down the road of life” language.

I want to invite you turn over control of your life to the one who can see around the next corner for you.  If you don’t like the road you’re on right now, if you’re finally ready to surrender control of your life to the Lord Jesus Christ, here’s how you can do that today. Pray this prayer of surrender: 

Jesus, I have made a mess of my life. I have gone down the wrong road and made some mistakes that I can’t fix.  I realize today that I need you to take control of my life. Right now, I turn over my heart and soul to you. I’m asking you to forgive me for my sins and failures. I need you to change me. From this moment forward, I will trust you to guide me and to direct me.  Amen.

If you’ve just surrendered to the lordship of Jesus Christ for the first time, and you really meant those words, I would like to know about it. I’d like to pray for you and help you understand what to do next. Please email me at info@2citieschurch.com.

For my sermon about having direction in life, click here.

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