Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Maze

Dear Friends,

I have Google Maps on my SmartPhone. Many of you do too. We know where we want to go, we just don’t know how to get there. So Google Maps shows us the way. It gives specific directions. It tells us how long it will take to reach our destination. It tells us when accidents or construction will delay our progress and shows detours to take to get us to where we are going. I don’t know about you, but I sure wish I could download a “LifeMap” application that would give me those same clear directions for my life! 

When I was sixteen, my grandmother, who was a teacher, took me to London to spend the summer. While she was taking classes at the University of London, I was left on my own to explore the city of my ancestors. When my grandmother wasn't in class she'd take me to the really cool places and one day we took a boat down the Thames River to a famous royal palace called Hampton Court. 

My grandmother loved the royal collection of art and  furnishings in the palace but to me the coolest thing was the maze. This covers about a third of an acre on the palace grounds and is the most famous maze in the world. It was designed and planted in 1700 and still looks today like it did then. For you horticultural types, the hedges are “English Yew.”

The maze is so difficult that there are little seats so that when you get tired you can rest. Every so often an attendant walks through, and if you've given up, you follow him and he will show you the way out. I told my grandmother to go ahead and have tea with her teacher friends because I was going to go into the maze. Of course, being a smart teenager, I knew it would only take me just a few minutes to figure it out! Yeah. It really wasn't that big but it was extremely disorientating. The hedges are so thick that you can't see through them. They are so high that you don't see anything that allows you to get your bearings. After awhile, you become not just physically tired but psychologically beat down, and I remember even starting to feel a little claustrophobic after walking endlessly on the narrow paths that lead only to dead-ends. That’s when you sit down and wait for an attendant to show you the way out.

Life can be like that too. We think we have it all figured out until we look around and find that we keep going down the same dead-end path. We turn around and try again. We're covering a lot of ground and taking a lot of steps but we're just not finding our way out to where we need to be. We keep getting stuck in the same places. The unexpected twists and turns of life can be disorienting and sometimes it's hard to get our bearings. If we get to the point of feeling hopelessly lost or trapped by life, we can even feel a bit claustrophobic. It’s overwhelming.

That’s when we need to just sit-a-spell and take a deep breath. When we’re lost and trapped in the circumstances of life, we need an attendant who knows the secret paths. We need someone who can help us and point us in the right direction. To navigate though the maze of life, we need to follow the Man who can show us the way.

It was in the Upper Room during that Passover Supper that Jesus had started talking about heaven and said that He was going there to prepare a place for His disciples. He told His disciples, “And where I go you know and the way you know.” One man was getting frustrated with Jesus for talking in vague, generalities. We know him as “Doubting Thomas” but we should call him “Inquisitive Thomas.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” John 14:5 And now Jesus was going to make it as forthright as it could be. No allegories, analogies, or metaphors. Nothing to translate, figure out or think about. For Inquisitive Thomas and for the entire world, Jesus stated the bottom line – the clear, direct and plain truth. Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6

When we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, our eternal destination is established. But life itself can be a bewildering and confusing maze and when we keep running into the same dead-ends, it’s easy to become discouraged and even feel hopelessly lost at times. That’s why the Attendant is there to take us by the hand and guide us through the maze. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. There is no other. Amen?

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