Ocean City, NJ
"And a voice came out of the cloud saying, "This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!" Luke 9:35
Have you ever travelled uncharted paths....roads unknown to you, foreign roads, unmarked... but unfolding right before your eyes? And then with each tentative step, things start coming at you from every direction. You get distracted, you get a little weary, maybe think I have to be on the wrong road....this can't be right??? But then you hear that quiet assurance, the voice of God speaking into your heart that says "This is the way, walk in it." Isaiah 30: 21
And you feel safe, despite the uncertainty of the road ahead.
You feel like you can take that next step. You focus on the voice, God's voice, and follow, maybe still tentative.....but assured that you are in the Father's hands.
Well, I ventured to the NJ shore on Friday with 6 kids in tow...uncharted territory for me alone. I had hoped that my husband could take the day off and join us, but he had a day packed of endless meetings....I understood, a little disappointed, as I love to have him with us, but I know he does have to work so that we can pay bills and be able to have some fun choices! Thank you honey, for being such a faithful, hard-working husband and daddy and for providing for us as you do!
He thought I was a bit crazy to take on the task of packing, driving, unpacking at the beach, and then making it back home all in one day. But he is used to my crazy ideas and knows that I can do it. It goes back to my childhood when there was so much I just had to do, because I didn't have anyone to help me. I knew the day would be long, but the kids would have a blast, and I really love the beach....so it was all worth the trouble. My best friend and her husband and children were vacationing at the shore last week and I was going to hook up with them at the beach. We also had another friend who was staying with them a couple of nights, and she would be there, as well, with her two kids. We had a beautiful day ahead of us. I was quite excited.
Well, back in April, my husband decided we needed to buy one of those GPS things. We were road tripping to Florida for a vacation and he thought it would be useful. I wasn't really in on it...I thought Mapquest would do just fine (and a lot cheaper!). But he convinced me that it was really indispensable and would get a lot of use. And, really, he does earn the money, so who am I to say he can't have this toy that he really wanted. He doesn't ask, or want for much. I on the other hand spend most of the discretionary money. So, GPS it was. Oh, and we had to get the one where the lady talks to you and tells you each turn as it comes. It's a little weird, you know what I mean, if you have one. Her voice is very calm. She will tell you to stay left, to stay right, to be prepared for the exit ahead. If you miss the turn, she will tell you she is recalculating and she will then tell you how to get back on track. I must say, it was a nice thing to have on our road trip. But I never really used it myself. I was always in the passenger seat. Not on Friday, I was driving. Just me, 6 kids and GPS lady.
I am not much of a technical person. So, Friday morning, I asked my 9 year old son (who is very much like his dad....very technical), to program our beach destination into the GPS and get us going in the right direction. I told him the street of our final stopping ground. He promptly did as he was told and had it all set up in the car. We all packed up the car. From the looks of it you would have thought we were going for a week with all of our gear, bags and the like, but really it was just for the day. We were off around 9:45 am...all looking forward to the day ahead.
I pull out of our development and follow the voice of the GPS lady, as she told me each turn to take. In the past, when we have gone to the shore, we have always gone this back way. But I haven't travelled it many times, so couldn't really find my way alone. As the GPS lady beckoned me on, I realized she was not taking me "the back way." I started to get a little nervous, as I didn't even check to make sure my son programed our destination correctly...nor did I know how to check....ummm.....I didn't even mapquest our destination.....who needs mapquest when you have the GPS lady??? Quite presumptuous of me to blindly follow this lady and trust her with the crew I had packed into our Suburban.
But I trusted her nonetheless.....right, satellites were guiding us from many different points. I could see my little car on the road ahead of us on the little computer screen. Well, as we start travelling toward Philadelphia, through the city, in a lot of traffic....I get a little nervous and fear begins to creep in.....maybe I'm going in the wrong direction? I start to lack some faith in the GPS lady and call my girlfriend at the beach....she gives me the reassurance I need that this way will bring me to our destination, and in fact our other friend had travelled this very road yesterday. I take a deep breath....ok....onward we go.
As I am crossing over the Benjamin Franklin Bridge into NJ, I have cars speeding quickly by me. There is a lot of traffic. I have to make sure I am in the right lane or else I will end up in Camden and not toward the shore....the road starts to break into four different lanes going to different destinations.....all the while, my 4 year old needs a drink, my 2 year old now decides she needs her blankie that she has dropped and I am trying to tune my ears into the GPS lady to make sure I don't wind up in Timbuktu.
As all of this is going on around me.... and God uses this moment to speak into my heart. He says.."This is your walk with Me." This is what it is like as we daily walk together. Just listen to my voice...put aside the distraction, the noise and follow. Trust. Obey. Walk.
I love how God uses everyday situations and things, like the GPS lady...to teach us. I start absorbing everything He is bringing to mind about the similarities. As I am driving, I grab a pen and a scrap sheet of paper and don't want to lose what He is saying. I start scribbling notes down as I am driving. (Not a good idea...)
He is speaking to my heart. He has a set destination for each one of us. Others have travelled similar roads, maybe even the same road....but if you've ever followed anyone on a trip, you know that it is hard to follow someone else.....God has His own path for you, even on the same roads that others have travelled. He doesn't want us following someone else....He wants us following HIM and Him alone. We can learn from each other, we can help each other along....but when it comes down to it......God wants to lead and us to follow. He has something special for each of us on the roads He has chosen. It won't be the same thing as the person who has travelled before you. As we follow, He teaches us, He encourages us, He helps us along. He reassures us that we are on the right road....kind of like the GPS lady.
And as the cars were flying by me, as the road was changing and I had to listen closely to the GPS ladies instructions, (and yes..put down my scrap paper)...I realized my walk with God is no different. There are so many daily distractions that keep my eyes off of Jesus and the path ahead. Satan enters the road and tries to woo me, He tricks me into thinking "I must be on the wrong road!" He distracts me. He whispers....God doesn't love you....or else He would have chosen a different road for you. This one is way to hard and rocky. It is uncertain. Quick, jump in my car and I'll take you down a different highway. Ohhh....don't go! I must shake the fear, the doubt, the worry and trust God with the path ahead....His perfect plan. I must put aside all that distracts me and listen intently to His voice....only His voice. I must look for the next step......not the next two steps....only the next step. God will give me the next step, then as I take it, He will give me the next step. Just like the GPS lady. She doesn't tell me the three next turns, only the next turn.
When I get off course, as I often do......GPS lady recalculates. She puts me back on track for my destination. God does that and so much more. He guides me right back to His feet, so that I will follow Him. I will listen to His voice. He guides me into His Word for the rich truths He wants to give me that day. He will even pick me up and carry me if need be...if I am willing to follow. He doesn't force me to follow...
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." John 10:27
I just need do listen for His voice and follow. I need to be still, to hear His voice. I need to be listening for it and I need to be leaving the lines of communication open....I can't let my sin or me get in the way. I must seek Him in His Word, through prayer....and He has never let me down.
I need to trust God. I need to trust that He knows what He is doing and believe that He doesn't make mistakes. GPS lady....well, she makes mistakes. Sometimes there are new roads developed that she hasn't learned yet....to her there is no road.....we get lost. But we never get lost with God. He is ever present, ever guiding, all-knowing...there is no new road to him.
In the middle of travelling, I pass a sign that said-30 miles to Atlantic City....that's not where I wanted to go.....I panic. I called my girlfriend again for reassurance. Oh, what little faith I sometimes have. No, I was on the right path. But I continue to question. We can't question God and the paths ahead.....just trust that He is in control and that He will lead us to the way of everlasting.
So, we made it. We made it to the shore....and you know what....I didn't need to turn around once. The directions were perfect. GPS lady lead us right to our destination.....really God did....and you know what, at the end of a beautiful, hot, fun-filled day of soaking up the sun, playing in the water, building sandcastles, burying each other in the sand, and having great conversations with dear friends.....well, GPS lady lead me right home. I didn't question, this time. I knew her voice.....and I followed.
Here are some pictures of our day at Ocean City. Thank you Lord Jesus that you show up, so real and present, even through the GPS lady.....and show me that I need to just follow you, trust you, and lean on you to lead. And thank you for being so much BIGGER than the GPS lady! The GPS lady, she doesn't really care if I end up in the right place, but You do! You love us so.
Here is a verse that God has used many times in my life as I've travelled uncertain roads. May it be an encouragement and comfort to you.....as you walk with God.
"Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for Him. For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem; You shall weep no more. He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry; When He hears it, He will answer you. And though the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, Yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore, But your eyes shall see your teachers. Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying...This is the way, walk in it." Isaiah 30:18-21
The boys on the beach
My beach girl....she didn't leave this chair the whole day....no joke!!
Max, Ben and Seth waiting for the next wave to ride in!
Jed playing in the sand
Seth, Ben, Max and Luke buried in the sand
What a wonderful end to a beautiful day!
Love in Him-Stacy