Men Who Ask for Directions (and Other Miracles)
JULY 14, 2016
I’ve been thinking lately that maybe being “lost” isn’t such a bad spiritual condition. At least it’s better than believing I have everything figured out with God. You see, when we admit our lostness, there’s help. When we refuse to acknowledge how lost we really are, we’re kind of on our own.
Back in the days when GPS wasn’t a thing yet, it wasn’t uncommon for me to get lost with driving directions. And it was usually to an important event like a wedding out in the country. Again and again my wife would say, just stop at a gas station and ask for directions! It’s a cliché, really. A man so sure he knows what he’s doing that he won’t bother to ask for help. The best thing we can do when we’re lost is ask for help rather than pretend we’re not lost.
This reminds me of Jesus’ lost parables. The parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son.
Consider how the concept of lost and found goes. We get ourselves lost, and though it’s popular nowadays to go and “find yourself,” nobody ever un-loses themselves. In things spiritual anyway. In the spiritual realm, we are found by Another and the getting found part is a completely passive enterprise. All we have to do is be scared, cold, maybe injured, bleating underneath a bush and the shepherd comes to the rescue. If we are not of the lost variety, we’re encouraged that we don’t have to walk around with a clipboard looking busy in front of the father like the elder brother in the prodigal story. Instead, we’re encouraged to remember “you are always with me, and everything I have is yours” (Luke 15:31). We don’t have to do anything in order to earn the father’s good graces. We’re already a part of the family!
Men that refuse to ask for directions is a truism. But there’s often a companion to this. Once we get found out on our lostness, we beat myself up for getting lost. Well, at least I do. I’m lost, I know it, and now I feel like an idiot. Then I become a jerk to those around me because I feel bad about myself. I’ve done this in life too. I blow it in some way, make a mess of my life and make others pay for it. Rather than call out to the Father in my lostness, I sulk over my idiot-ness.
Another word for that is cough—pride—cough.
This kind of response presupposes that once the Father catches up to me, he’s going to be wagging his finger in my face, and tapping his toe in impatience. This is not the picture of the lost parables.
Instead (as Robert Capon has said), its like the punch line of each of the lost parables is joy. When the sheep is found, it’s thrown up onto the shepherd’s shoulders like there’s cause for a parade. When the lost coin is found after much fretting, the lady calls out all her gal pals and they have a party. When the lost son comes home, it’s time for a cookout, the best cuts of meat, and much cause for rejoicing.
When you’re lost in the weeds and feeling unanchored, God will find you. God wants us to be in a place where we are passive recipients of his goodness and grace. Not in earning, not in living hedonistically gorging ourselves on the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, or the pride of life, but as a needy child. As lost as a coin in a dimly lit shack. It’s in this place of passivity that we learn to live like a human being, the way God intends. There’s no earning here, only humble receiving.
I don’t know about you, but I think I’d rather swallow my pride and admit that I’m a bumbling, lost idiot rather than stay ticked at myself for getting myself lost again. It takes too much energy to stay mad, and it’s a drag for my wife and kids.
If you can take a breath and admit you’re lost, I promise, your savior will not turn you away. Instead, he’ll hoist you up on his shoulders and throw a party. That sounds a whole lot better than the hell of sulking in the failure of getting lost, don’t you think?