Changing landscapes

I was driving home today and missed my turn. I’m familiar with the neighborhood and have turned into that street thousands of times. But I was confused by the changing landscape.

An unused strip mall was being torn down, and bulldozers had been busy all week. Suddenly, the corner building was no longer there, and I went cruising past my turn. I hadn’t realized how accustomed I was to turning left at that building.

I began to think about the landscape of my life and how difficult it is to respond to changes. I like to follow familiar routes. I like to know my way. I like to cruise along without having to think about it. I am thankful for new technologies that provide turn-by-turn guidance whenever I have to venture into new areas, because I don’t always have a navigator in the car with me to read the map and help me spot street signs. But familiarity can also become a navigation system.

I grew up in the countryside and learned to use trees and hills as landmarks instead of streetlights and signs. I very rarely read signs unless I am in unfamiliar territory. I like to unconsciously follow the way I have traveled thousands of times by looking at the visual landscape.

There have been a few times in my life when I had sudden changes, and my spiritual landscape was completely overhauled. I struggled to find patterns and learn the ropes in my new domain. The only way to find my way was listening to God’s voice, like Google Maps, “In 30 feet, turn left on Broadway…”

God can guide us through changing landscapes and bring us home, no matter how much things have changed. All we have to do is turn to Him and ask for His help, and He can give us a step-by-step plan to get us through. Changes force us to get out of our ruts, pay attention to where we’re going, and carefully read the signs.

Right now the demolition process down the street looks like a big mess, but somebody knows what they are doing. Somebody has a plan, and eventually, I will be thankful for something new and better in our neighborhood. The only way to have improvements is to have change. In the meantime, I need to be a little more conscientious driving home and remember where to turn. No more relying on “automatic pilot.”