Road trips can be a lot of fun. You’ve got the music blaring, and you’re singing along at the top of your lungs. You’ve got your friends or family to talk to. You’ve got snacks. (Anyone else have snacks they only ever eat on road trips, or is it just me?)
One thing that definitely makes trips easier today is GPS. Whether you’re using a designation GPS, like TomTom or Garmin, or if you’re using the Google Maps app on your phone, it’s a whole lot easier than relying on an old road atlas to guide you through a city or across the state.
I love what he says about GPS for life. Wouldn’t that be great?
Because if we’re honest, we’ve all gotten lost at some point. Getting lost can be terrible. You feel helpless and anxious. You may feel like the whole journey is ruined. And I think everyone at some point has felt lost on a spiritual or existential level.
So what should you do when you’re feeling lost in life? I think you should do some of the same things you would do if you’re lost on a road trip. And Psalm 19 can help us figure it out.
1) CHECK YOUR SURROUNDINGS
Psalm 19 is one of my favorite Psalms in Scripture. The Psalm itself is a journey of inward discovery. It begins with a powerful Ode to God’s Creation.
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth. (Psalm 19:1-6)
When you’re feeling lost, overwhelmed, or stressed in life I believe one of the best things you can do is to get back to nature. We have cut ourselves off from God’s creation so much these days. It does a spirit good to get back into the wild – whether it’s a hike in your local state park or a day out on the lake or simply watching the sunset in your backyard as the fireflies come out. Creation speaks volumes of the wonders of God.
As Jesus was telling his followers not to worry so much about life, he used God’s creation as an example for us – birds don’t worry about their food and flowers don’t worry about having the finest clothing. Paul informs the men of Athens that God is the creator of heaven and earth, and as such he is not far from any of us. Paul writes to the Romans that God has revealed his “divine nature and eternal power” through what he has created.
If you’re feeling lost, then check your surroundings. Get out in nature and look for God among the hills and the forests. Find God in the streams and rivers. Look for his fingerprints in the waterfalls, mountain peaks, and constellations.
2) CONSULT THE MAP
But life doesn’t come with a map!
Or does it? The second part of Psalm 19 is an Ode to God’s Word.
The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
and all of them are righteous.
They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.
By them your servant is warned;
in keeping them there is great reward. (Psalm 19:7-11)
Check out all the things David says about the Law. Look at all the ways he describes the Law – it’s perfect, trustworthy, right, radiant, pure, firm, precious, sweet. And notice all the things the Law does – it refreshes the soul, makes wise the simple, gives joy to the heart, gives light to the eyes, endures forever, warns, rewards.
David gives a pretty good plug for God’s Word. That’s one strong endorsement. Maybe the Word is worth paying attention to!
Paul thinks so, too. He reminds Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Get your bearings and consult the map. In other words, find God in creation and then consult his Word to know how to draw closer to him. Look at what Jesus says in John 5:39, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me…”
A map can only point you in the right direction. The map itself is not the destination. Just as God’s Word is meant to point us closer to God through Christ Jesus. The Bible itself is not the destination. But in learning the Scriptures we can know more about God, more about Christ, and more about how to draw closer to our final destination. (See last week’s post!)
3) GET MOVING
You’ve made a wrong turn and gotten lost. You’ve wandered down a path you never meant to be on. So you’ve stopped and taken in your surroundings. You’ve consulted the map and know which way you should have gone. So now it’s time to get a move on. And the best way to begin is by retracing your steps. Go back the way you came. Realize where you went wrong, and get back on the right path.
That’s called REPENTANCE.
But who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:12-14)
Psalm 19 ends with a prayer. But it’s not just a past-oriented prayer. It’s also present- and future-oriented. David is praying that God will forgive his past sins, keep him from future sins, and that his present course of action will be pleasing to God.
Repentance is a process. It may not be a one-time thing. Just like it may take you a while to get back onto the right road after missing a turn, so it may take some time to get your life realigned with God’s will. It will take some backtracking. It will take some goal setting. It will take some serious work to get your priorities straight again. And you may still not be where you need to be, but at least you will be on the right road back.
Scripture is full of people who ended up lost and wandering. God is constantly reaching out to the wanderers urging them to come home, to come find him. When the people of Judah had gone completely off the rails, they ended up in exile in a foreign land (Babylon). God actually writes them a letter through the prophet Jeremiah. Look what he tells them:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” (Jeremiah 29:11-14)
I will be found by you. I will bring you home.
Jesus echoes these words in the Sermon on the Mount when he says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).
Get moving. When you search for God, He will find you. He will bring you home. You don’t have to live life lost.
FINALLY, don’t be afraid to stop and ask for help!
You are not on this journey alone. So many of us know the twists and turns and detours life has to throw at you. You may not know the way back, but there are plenty of other people who have wandered those same roads. They can help lead you back to the right path if you let them.