I admit, I have no sense of direction. I couldn’t find my way out of a paper bag if my life depended on it and to me, maps are just blurry, squiggly lines on a page.
Anyone who’s ever sat in my passenger seat knows that at some point on most journeys, I’ve taken a wrong turn, missed my exit or, on one occasion, found myself in Derbyshire, when I should have been in Cheshire.
I wish I was like my dad, who can mysteriously ‘sense’ which way to go.
Instead, I’m just like my brother, who is basically, just like me.
One night, driving home cross-country, I got hopelessly lost, even more hopelessly lost than usual. Somehow I ended up on an A road in the middle of nowhere, accompanied by an angry-looking low fuel light and a sat nav which chose that moment to sarcastically remind me I needed to make a u-turn.
I KNOW!! (I shouted back), but there’s NOWHERE to turn around, you robotic IDIOT.
The sat nav then fell silent, no doubt sulking, as I drove down a lane, straight into an area with no-GPS or mobile signal, at which point, the fuel light started to blink rapidly and urgently.
No sat nav, petrol low, lost, tired, cranky and no idea which way to go. I was genuinely fed up and picturing myself stranded on a country lane with no phone, in a fuel-less car.
And then, as I headed to a t-junction, I caught just the faintest glimmer of a sign. Could it be…could it be…could it be a PETROL STATION??
It was pitch black, pelting with rain but there, twinkling in the distance was just the smallest glimmer of hope…a light which meant fuel for the journey and (hopefully) a real human being who could tell me which direction to go.
As I limped into the forecourt, I have never felt so much relief. The attendant at the petrol station was slightly amused to hear I was heading more than 20 miles in the wrong direction, but the fuel tank was soon filled up and I was on my way, with a packet of smarties (I desperately needed sugar) and some clear directions back to the main road.
This sorry tale jumped into my head this morning when I read Matthew 5;
You are the light of the world. A city that’s set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lamp stand and it gives light to all who are in the house.
The world is in turmoil at the moment and more than anything, so many are craving direction, looking for answers, trying to understand. The reaction (for some) is to get angry, to riot, to self-destruct. But what if, in the middle of confusion and darkness, you and me (and anyone who follows Jesus) could actually be that ‘light on a hill’?
When I was lost that night on a rainswept country lane, I didn’t actually need someone to tell me, ‘it’s dark, you’re lost…it’s raining’. I knew that already.
What I actually needed was someone to show me that there was hope, that I wasn’t hopelessly broken and that I was only a short distance away from help.
Instead of offering more reasons to be angry or more pithy online rebuttals, what would happen if Christians worked toward being that ‘petrol station glimmering in the darkness’? That instead of arguing online, or scoring political points, we got on with the business of reminding people that no matter what happens, God is still firmly on the throne.
Just like my frustrated, rainswept adventures in the car, the world around us is looking for hope, for direction, for light.
If we know where (and who) the light is, let’s not hide it.