Popular religion focuses so hard on spiritual success that most of us do not know the first thing about the spiritual fruits of failure.
. . . It is hard to shake the shame of getting lost in our lives. And yet if someone asked us to pinpoint the times in our lives that changed us for the better, a lot of those times would be wilderness times.
– Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World
We were going the wrong way. Again. (I hate going the wrong way—it’s so inefficient, yes?)
Navigating the New York City subway system was an art we hadn’t mastered. So when I decided *I* would take the navigational reins myself, I laid our directional weight completely on a NYC subway app I’d downloaded on my iPhone.
And I got frustrated.
Because what I didn’t realize was that to head uptown, it’d first suggest we go a short distance on a downtown train, which could then connect us to the right line up to Manhattan.
Go backwards to go forward? It wasn’t clear.
I pray differently when I’m lost.
When I see I’m vulnerable.
When I’m desperate for help. Help!
But has Jesus ever routed you, too, through the forest before he showed you the interstate? (Don’t even get me started on our journey in a New Jersey neighborhood. Was I ever glad to see the road to the airport!)
This month’s spiritual discipline I’m *considering* is “Wilderness: The Practice of Getting Lost.” Barbara Brown Taylor recommends it as a way to wake us from our unconsciousness, reminding us that God does some of his best work with us in the wilderness. She says that by leaving our regular paths,
You agree to become aware of each step you take, tuning all of your senses to exactly where you are and exactly what you are doing.
I’m not comfortable with the idea just yet. And I certainly won’t intentionally get lost.
But I have switched my music to shuffle and turned off my GPS a time or two and taken a few back roads that I ordinarily wouldn’t. Small physical changes to prime the pump for spiritual openings, leaving the familiar beaten paths.
Because I want to be reminded that:
- Who I’m with on the journey is more important than how I’m getting there
- If I’m to follow Jesus wherever he leads, I can’t have the trip already planned out
- Relying less on my resources leads me to depend more on his
If the journey is about loving deeper and wider—and I believe it is—I want to submit to riding backwards (or so it might seem) on an unplanned train if it will strengthen me to more closely cling to the one leading the way.
Sometimes we’re most lost when we’re most sure we know exactly where we are.
And most secure when we’re clueless about where we are, but we’re with the one who always knows.
* * *
Have you ever gotten lost? What did you learn from it?
- June 2013: The practice of walking on earth
- May 2013: The practice of physical labor
- April 2013: The practice of saying no
- March 2013: The practice of wearing skin
- February 2013: The practice of slowing down
- January 2013: The practice of waking up to God
- Summaries–June 2013 Posts
- Where I am – July 2013