Are you listening to that voice?
Two days earlier I had driven around the city trying to find the entrance to my hotel. I could see it, I just couldn’t get to it. I typed in street names, post codes, hotel names, all the information I could think of into my sat nav, and still it was directing me to the wrong place. Apparently “Jane” was as confused as I was.
Fast-forward two days. I spent 45 minutes on a McDonalds run which should have taken 10 at the most. Again I had told my plans to my sat nav, put my trust in it, and it had led me to the middle of nowhere. “You have reached your destination.” I hadn’t. I was in the middle of a busy street with no McDonalds in sight, no where to stop, and no way to turn around. I had trusted my sat nav, and now it had stranded me. Thankfully, with the help of a friendly postman, I finally found the McDonalds and got some dinner. During this long drive, I had seen a gas station and made a mental note of it knowing that I would need to get some petrol after the meeting that night before I set off on my long journey home.
Now here I was, at the gas station, having driven around for a good 25 minutes to get somewhere that was only 3 minutes away. I had once again fallen into the sat nav trap. I had turned it on, told it where I wanted to go, and lo and behold, it took me, yet again, to the middle of nowhere. No gas station in sight and the only instructions being “You have reached your destination” or “turn around when possible”. Eventually I gave up, and did what I should have done in the first place, trusted my own instincts and navigation skills, and got myself to where I wanted to be.
Finally at the gas station I stood with pump in hand filling my car with petrol, and I realized how much like life the situation was. Sometimes we know where we want to be, and we know how to get there, but instead of trusting what we know and our own instincts, we listen to all the voices around us, and ignore all we know to be right and true. We follow the people telling us to go this way or that way, to turn around, to stop, even though we know in our gut it’s the wrong way. And then they tell us to stop and look around, “You’re there!” they say, only it’s not at all where we thought we were headed. Suddenly those voices have no useful input, often the most useful thing they can say is, turn around. You’ve been on a wasted journey, and unnecessary detour, and it’s left you tired, frustrated, confused, and discouraged. Sometimes we need to switch those voices off. When they’re telling us to go one way, and we know it’s not where we should go, we need to trust what we know to be true, trust our guts, ignore them and do what we know is right.
After I was all filled up and on the road I got to a major intersection in the road, there was a billion lanes and different ways to go, and I realized I had no idea which lane I needed to be in, where I was headed, or which way to turn. Thankfully just at that moment there was a signpost, it was a little help, but not complete. I thought I knew which lane I needed to be in, and possibly which way to turn, but I really wasn’t all that sure, and I was feeling a little panicked. Just then my sat nav spoke up, it confirmed what I thought and guided me step by step through this strange and busy intersection. Now I had learnt my lesson not to listen to my sat nav on most occasions. But this time, I knew I was lost, my gut had no feeling, I needed a voice to guide me. I had also seen the road signs this time, and they had given me a clue as to what I should be doing, and then my sat nav confirmed it and filled in the details and gently guided me through the whole process.
Once I had made it through and was on the motorway my panicked mind calmed down and I realized life if like that too. Sometimes we need to listen to the voices. We need to recognize when we’re lost and have no idea where we’re headed and we need to reach out and find those voices. We need to read the unchanging signposts in our lives, and then we need to find voices that match up with those and listen to them. They’ve got the knowledge, they’ve been there before, and they can guide us through.
I hope I am humble enough to admit when I am lost and have no clue where I’m headed so that I can allow people to speak into my life. I also hope that I have the courage and conviction to block out the voices in my life that are leading my astray. I pray I have the wisdom to distinguish between the two. I pray that I open my eyes to read the signposts, clear my ears to hear the voices that match with them, and soften my heart to be corrected and guided by those people.
It’s interesting how in both cases the voice was my sat nav. The voice I needed to ignore, and the voice I needed to heed, came from the same place, yet in different circumstances it needed to be treated differently. I think that’s also true in life. Sometimes the same people can both speak things we need to ignore, and things we need to hold closely and allow to mold us.