I once was lost. Once. Back in 1991. I had to go to a gas well site in extreme Southwest Kansas. I was new to the area and I’d never been to that site before so I asked a fellow worker for directions. He told me to go down this road, turn left on another road and then turn right when you get to the big tree and it’s a couple miles from there. I couldn’t miss it, he said. I thought, that’s easy enough, I don’t need a map.
I found the first road and turned left but then I never saw the big tree. I kept driving looking for the big tree. I finally realized I was lost when I came to an intersection of two highways in Oklahoma, thirty miles south of where I was supposed to be. I found a pay phone (this was before cell phones), and called my associate. I told him I never found the big tree (there aren’t many trees nor much else in Southwest Kansas). His response….”Oh, that’s right, the tree fell down about five years ago but everybody knows where it was.” Everybody except me.
People who know me know that I like to drive. Ever since I was a young boy, I’ve been making long, cross-country roadtrips with my family. Some of my earliest memories include sitting in the front seat of our ’62 Chevy Bel Air somewhere between California and Missouri, studying a road atlas, and telling my dad how far it was to the next town down Route 66.
Younger folks these days might not know what an atlas or an accordion-fold state highway road map looks like. With GPS on cell phones, most people simply plug in an address, hit start and go where the cute voice tells them to go.
A few years ago, my daughter and her husband drove from Kansas to Middle Tennessee to meet us for a family reunion. They put the address in their GPS and relied on it to get them there. It took them through back country roads to the Tiptonville ferry which crosses the Mississippi River between Missouri and Tennessee. It’s a nine car ferry. When they arrived at the landing the ferry had just left. By the time the ferry returned and they got to the Tennessee side they’d lost about two hours. If they’d looked at a map they’d have seen a much better and quicker route.
Studying a map gives you the big picture. You have an idea of where you’re going, and what towns and scenery you can expect to see between here and there. You get an idea of waypoints and you can track your progress. A GPS, well, it just takes all the fun out of it.
Call me strange, but these memories came to mind this morning as I entered into prayer, meditating on today’s Gospel passage, John 14:1-12. Jesus said, “…’Where I am going you know the way.’” Thomas said to Him, ‘Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”(Jn 14: 4-6).
Thomas (nor any of the Apostles, actually) had not been paying attention. He followed his Master all around Galilee but hadn’t studied his roadmap, Jesus. He hadn’t looked out the window at the scenery. He didn’t know where he was going nor where he had been. He was lost and confused.
Living eternally with our Father in heaven is our destination. Jesus is the Way. He is the Roadmap. Studying Jesus and His life in the Scriptures, and following His directions, is the shortest and quickest route to heaven. He showed us the route: in the Beatitudes, in His works of mercy, in His love for the Father, and in His sacrifice for our personal salvation.
Jesus is the Truth. He will not lead you astray. You can depend on Him for a safe and enriching journey.
Jesus is the Life. He will fill your life with infinite graces, let you see along the way all the beauty that God created, and give you opportunities to live your life to the fullest with peace and happiness.
Study His map. Follow His directions. The joy experienced on the journey will only be exceeded by the awe and wonder when you arrive.
“Dear Jesus, send Your Holy Spirit into my heart that I might have the grace to consistently turn to you in prayerful meditation, study Your life in the Gospels, and apply what I learn in daily resolutions so that I make all the right turns. Amen.”
(Jesus, the Spiritual Roadmap was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)
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