Samwise Gamgee Can Get Us Through These Days

new-zealand-563759_640I terrified myself this week. Truly experienced long moments of icy panic.

It had been a full day of meeting with families for my day job. After leaving one family’s home, I mentally mapped my route back to my office to pick up some gift cards and then to my next appointment on the other side of the state. (It’s Rhode Island so we’re not talking longer than a 45-minute drive.) I swung my car onto route 1 and shifted my mind into automatic for the trip to my office.

Fifteen minutes into the drive, I didn’t recognize where I was. I knew I should recognize it. I drive route 1 almost every day. I know every inch of route 1. I told myself I was being silly as I searched the landscape for a mental handhold. Nothing.

I truly didn’t recognize where I was and when I saw a sign for 95 north, I felt terrified. I shouldn’t be seeing that sign and seeing it made it even harder for me to make sense of my surroundings. My office is south of where my appointment had been.

I spotted a sign for exit 8a and knew that in the past I had taken that exit but still couldn’t place why it was suddenly located here. I took it. As I followed the exit south, eventually making my way back onto route 1, I correctly reasoned that I had thoughtlessly entered route 1 north instead of south fifteen minutes earlier. Assuming I was heading south, the landmarks on route 1 north made no sense to my stressed and weary mind.

That panic is how many of us feel about the changing landscape of our country, our culture, our churches, and modern life in general. We travel the same route we’ve always traveled from cradle to coffin and we know we should recognize where we are along the way but often, we scramble to make sense of landmarks that seem wildly out of place. Humanity has taken a seriously wrong turn so we live our days with a baseline of panic that we should know where we are but we don’t.

When I started working with families in crisis back in the 1980’s, even people who didn’t identify as Christians had a general agreement that there are right and wrong absolutes. If they chose to do wrong, they called themselves rebels, mavericks, or outlaws but whatever they called it, they acknowledged that it was a departure from God’s design.

Now, there is no consensus on right living. Anything can be okay. What used to be considered wrong is now glorified and those who recognize wrong are vilified, constantly pressured to conform to the majority notion that every behavioral choice is good.

As the world enters this period of crazy spin, we scramble for handholds, landmarks, and solid ledges to gain perspective. I find most of my pitons in God’s Word. Psalm 37 is one of the places my fingers grip. Another is 2 Timothy 3. These passages remind me that even if the road looks unfamiliar, I’m still capable, in Christ, of navigating safely home.

Daily prayer. Worship alone and worship with others. Obedience. Appropriating joy. Enjoying God and serving others. These are my landmarks – even when they suddenly appear set on an unfamiliar highway. These are my gripping places. These are what hold me in place as the world turns.

fridge aGetting lost in Rhode Island is like misplacing the mayonnaise in the refrigerator. You know that eventually you will find it so there’s no real reason for fear.

That is also true of our travel through these times. We may feel lost but with God, we’re home already. No matter which way we turn, Holy Spirit GPS will guide us so every detour, wrong turn, and spin can be overcome.

Have you ever lost your way? Do you ever feel as though the once familiar road through this life suddenly seems like we’ve transported into a Martian landrover?

I’m fine now, by the way. This incident was a factor of long work hours and stressful appointments but, just in time, I’m off work for an extended weekend.

These are unsettling times, loved ones, so we must train ourselves not to fear. Humanity changes but God remains the same.

God set us down, each of us, in this place and these time. He determined us for these days. We were created for just this adventure so I have to say, I agree with Samwise Gamgee when he says:

I know we are going to take a very long road, into darkness; but I know I can’t turn back. It isn’t to see Elves now, nor dragons, nor mountains, that I want – I don’t rightly know what I want: but I have something to do before the end, and it lies ahead, not in the Shire.

The Fellowship of the Ring, “A Shortcut to Mushrooms”

What do you have to do, loved one? Let’s find out together.

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    The Conversation

  1. I know what you mean, Lori. When I watch the news, I wonder if our world is spinning off into craziness. But I remember that God is the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe and that my days are held in His hands.

  2. Dorothy Hill says:

    I read your posts and they consistently resonate in me. Thank you for sharing your heart in your blog. Praying for our country and our world.