Wednesday, February 19, 2014


I've always loved maps and directions.  As a child I would be navigator on our summer road trips.  I'd be all settled in the back seat of our station-wagon with those old fold out maps monitoring our progress and predicting arrival times.  Maps make me happy; they give me joy.  There's a certain pleasure calculating the number of miles before the next exit and then, right on schedule, seeing the sign appear around the bend in the road.  Having a trustworthy guide brings me a confidence and peace that produces joy.

I have come to treasure the Bible in much the same way that I treasure maps.  My experience is that when I trust God's word and stick to the plan then the map proves to be true and gets me to the specified destination.  There may be times when I encounter annoying traffic or an unexpected detour and even get slowed down by an accident, but I have learned that the map is accurate and can be trusted. 

One problem I do experience is that sometimes maps and the Bible can be confusing, even to the most trained and skilled navigator.   Sometimes I just get lost in all those tiny signs and numbers.  There's the occasional road that goes by more than one name.  From time to time I confuse north with east or west with south.   It can get tricky!   In addition to being confusing, there are so many distractions on this journey that cause me to take my eye off the directions and before I know it nothing looks familiar.   Every now and then I get lost in the scenery or my mind just wanders away and when I regain focus that dreaded sense of being off course sets in.  As careful as we are we sometimes get lost.

I really get annoyed when I get lost.  It's an unnecessary waste of time.  I especially get annoyed when I'm leading others.  It's a blow to my ego.  What must they be thinking of me?  But we all do it, don’t we?  We make a wrong turn.  We read the map wrong.  We lose focus and drive past the exit.  On one road trip I actually found myself going south on an interstate when I was supposed to be going north.  It took me 10-15 minutes before I figured it out!  That was annoying!

I love the GPS's we have today, and one thing I love about them is that when you make a wrong turn you get this helpful yet humbling message - recalculating.  I think it is amazing that something up there in the sky can see I've made a wrong turn and so quickly get me back on the right road.  It gives me relief to know that not all is lost; knowing that the wrong turn is correctable.  I've wasted some time, but the destination is still in my sites.

The Bible itself acknowledges that we all make wrong turns and we do make our journey a little more complicated when we do, but there is always hope.  God has an amazing knack of getting us back on the right track.  He doesn’t give up on us.  He doesn’t send us down dead-end roads.   God is a God who recalculates for us and, with a little effort, we can find ourselves back on track.

We're all headed somewhere, and I'm glad to know there's a map-maker out there who not only guides me to my destination but also has the patience to recalculate for me when I get lost.  Having a trustworthy guide brings me a confidence and peace that produces joy.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Richard Sherman after all the buzz

After the NFC conference championship game Richard Sherman, the outspoken defensive back for the Seahawks, was all the rage.  His end-of-the game antics and his postgame interview went viral.  I must admit I had pegged him for a thug, just another example of an ego-inflated athlete with no regard for sportsmanship.  For the most part, it was a mess of his own making, but our collective reaction reveals some of our flaws as well.  Here's a few things I take from the hype:

1.  People will judge you for even momentary lapses in judgment.  If after the NFC post game fiasco Sherman game to me for advice I would remind him that regardless of what kind of person you are people will judge you  based on isolated events.  That is not fair, but it is true.  I would tell him, and I remind myself, that people will take things out of context;  they will judge you not necessarily on your body of work but on those momentary lapses of judgment.  We can’t control people's reactions, but we can control our actions.  Try not to give people fodder to speak poorly of you.  Take Paul's advice in Ephesians 5:15, "Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise."

2.  Before rushing to judgment, make sure you know the whole story.  As Richard Sherman's story started to unfold an image much in contrast to the ranting athlete began to unravel.  Sherman's a good guy from a rough neighborhood.  He was a good student and he is a good teammate.  It became apparent that our judgments may have been as off target as a Peyton Manning pass in the Super Bowl.  As much as we want to make a judgment based on isolated events, take the time to know the person.  So often people react uncharacteristically when under pressure or in the heat of the moment, and that appears to be the case with Sherman.  This is one reason why Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged" (Matt. 7:1)

3.  Do what you can to change people's perceptions.  After the Super Bowl Sherman made it a point to go over to Bronco quarterback Peyton Manning to offer his congratulations for a great season.  He didn't have to do that; he may not have even wanted to do that.  It appears to me that Sherman wanted to shed that image he had inadvertently created two weeks before.  When we dig ourselves into a hole it is our job to get ourselves out, and we can do that by going out of our way to change the mistaken image we have created.  It is often easier to stew with resentment and wait for the other person to make the first move to reconciliation.  Take responsibility for your actions and do something to restore your reputation.

It was quite a few weeks for the Seahawk defensive star, but it turned out well.  I actually found myself liking this kid and was impressed how he was able to convert me into his fan.  People make mistakes, but Sherman's story teaches us that mistakes don’t have to have the final word!