Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A John Thing

“The way of Jesus cannot be imposed or mapped — it requires an active participation in following Jesus as he leads us through sometimes strange and unfamiliar territory, in circumstances that become clear only in the hesitations and questionings, in the pauses and reflections where we engage in prayerful conversation with one another and with him.” (I love this quote!)
Eugene H. Peterson, The Jesus Way: A Conversation on the Ways That Jesus Is the Way

John has no sense of  direction. The first clue came when he took me home to meet his family and he could not remember how to get to his grandmother's house. (She had lived in the same place for 40 years).

John has no sense of direction and he will not ask for directions. He may pass a dozen gas stations (a dozen times) but will still drain the tank trying to find his way in silence. I have observed this is not just a John thing but a man thing.

We have friends (Gary and Alice) who, like us, the wife is the navigator always and the driver if you are lucky. The day both of our husbands struck out on their own to go to Costco together over lunch, we started lining up replacements to preach and lead worship the following Sunday in case they didn't make it back on time.

When we drove up the Alcan Highway to Alaska I mapped out the entire route and rechecked it every night when we stopped. I always knew where we were. My plan was to plan ahead and stick to the plan. That was a success until we hit a 125 mile stretch of land under construction and the road itself literally disappeared.

I had never experienced anything like it and it was frighteningly confusing. There were detours out into the middle of nowhere with steep drops onto rocks below. There was a fog of pure dust obscuring everything from sight. There was no real road, just bumpy dirt that allowed a top sped of 5 mph. No markers of any kind. We were lost and blind and John was driving!

I was praying out loud. The map was useless. All my planning was obscured in a haze of Canadian clay dust- but we were moving forward. John was driving on and slowly our moving van and the car in tow were headed to Alaska.

In a sunless, dense, brown fog, John was following the very faint tail lights of a vehicle quite a ways ahead of us. When it turned, John turned. John matched its speed (if you can call it that) and never lost sight of it until we were out the other side.

My sweet driver has another birthday tomorrow. Maps still mystify him even though he says otherwise. But like the Peterson quote where he was talking about what he refers to in his book as "a long obedience" John is still following Jesus. No matter how hazy or strange, how dangerous or barren the landscape, John's compass finds true north. It does.

God told Moses he could see only His back parts because Moses could not look Him in the face and live. God's taillights remain in John's high beams and our family is headed to a more beautiful place than even Alaska because of such a long, steadfast obedience. He may not stop at gas stations for direction but John has always sought it on his knees.

So Happy Birthday to my traveling companion of many seasons, my friend and lover, my chauffeur. Your navigator loves you. Loves Christ in you. Whatever the next year and the New Year have up their sleeves, we will keep following the One who drew the map and charted the course that will lead us into His will and all the way home.

Jesus once again addressed them: “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.” John 8:12


  1. Funny. My husband never asks for directions either. We have been LATE and lost so many times. I am keeping him because he is a good man who also knows to go where God is leading.
    I try to drive if I can. (Sarah in Omaha)

  2. Larry doesn't ask for directions - occasionally asks me to check the GPS (used to be MAP :)but then again, he always tells me, "I may not always be right but I'm never wrong." At least I let him think that:) Love this, Kat!