The navigation apps on our phones that take us here and there have become a lifeline to many of us who do not inherently have the gift of direction. Thanks to these little devices I can arrive miraculously in places of which I truly have never heard. Kid's ball game in the backside of beyond, no problem. Sleepover in foreign corner of the city, I can drive everyone! Type in the address, and voila!
The problem comes when I haven't heard the Australian navigator's voice in a while and my surroundings grow increasingly nebulous, especially if it is dark or rainy and I am running late. In this scenario, I use my fingers to frantically zoom in, zoom in, zoom in. This causes me to lose all perspective. Hyper-zoomed in, the little map only shows ME and my very immediate circumstances, with no view of where I am going. Panic! To balance this, my fingers frantically zoom out, zoom out, zoom out until I see myself as a blue dot and my destination as a red dot just an inch away, which is obviously a misrepresentation of truth. Meanwhile, radio silence from the Australian navigator. My fingers over zoom in all directions. Ahhh! Panic! Lost!
This is true of real life too. On a normal day, I can be cruising right along - reading my devotion, tidying house, driving carpool, going for a walk, tending to business - a girl on the ball. Then something will get my mind reeling - a comment from a friend, finding out that my child is in a tough spot, a spat with my hubby, the news. Whatever it is, I go from cruising happily to hyper zooming. I can zoom so far in on the "thing", psycho-analyzing every aspect, that I lose all perspective. The child's suffering blocks out any hope, the hubby's hurt drowns out all love, the friend's wound darkens my heart to any light that could heal. I zoom in, zoom in, zoom in, fixating on the thing, and just like that - though I started the day a girl on the ball - I am lost.
On the flip side, on a different normal day, my list of things to do, things to think about, things to talk about leave me spinning in a different fashion. I start the day off feeling solid, secure - a steady woman of character and purpose with a list that I intend to execute. But then, just as I leave the school carpool loop, I read a text reminding me of something my man-child forgot. Can I bring it to him? Yes, but that will make me late to doctor appointment. As I wait at doctor's, I see a post about a girls' night that I wasn't included in... then I get a reminder about a dentist appointment for child #2, then my brother calls and I am snippy, and I feel guilty, but I am late for volunteering, then... All these things are not-so-big-a-deal, but they leave me spinning. So many things to think about, so many things to do. On the map of my life, I zoom out, zoom out, zoom out trying to make sense of so many details. And just like that - though I started the day steady and ready - I am lost.
On my phone app, when I have over zoomed in either direction and lost all perspective of where I am and where I need to be, there is a little RECENTER button in the corner of the screen. When I press this button, the screen adjusts and instantly I have a healthy view of where I am and where I am going. Exhale. Found.
In real life, in our heart lostness, we also have this RECENTER button. Enter Jesus. Contrary to the way I sometimes live, Jesus is not merely an idea or an out-of-reach kind of god; He is a savior and a finder of lost people, and we can call out His name/press the heart recenter button to be saved, to be found. To me, this means simply shifting my gaze from my circumstances to Him, it's about focus. This pressing the heart button and turning to Jesus is not reserved to the one time you asked Jesus into your heart when you are 8, and it is not limited to church visits on Sundays or when you sit dutifully in your devotion chair. It is for Tuesday morning when you are crying in carpool behind your sunglasses when it is barely light outside because your feelings are hurt, and you feel fat, and you don't know how to parent a teenager. Because Jesus is a real life rescuer, we can press the RECENTER buttons in our heart, and say Jesus, I am so lost right now. I know it is crazy, but I can't see my way out of the hurt and the fear and the frustration. My heart is spinning. Help!
I wish I could say that He would answer with an audible Australian accent. That would be very cool, but that is not my experience. There are, however, two questions that we can ask ourselves in our lostness that adjust our heart maps back to center.
Where am I?
To whom do I belong?
The reason these questions do the hard work of reorienting us is because they are questions that scripture asks of us. Scripture is how Jesus shows up in our todays. In scripture, God asked of the first two lost people in the history of the world, "Where are you?" He asked this not because He needed to find them (He knows exactly where we are in our bodies and in our hearts and minds), but because they needed to take account of where they were in relation to Him. They had strayed from Him in the yearnings of their minds, and that straying created distance from God. They were lost people, distanced from God, just like me and you, . By asking this question, we take stock of where we are and where God is; it recenters our hearts because it makes us proximate to Him.
Then, we ask ourselves, "To whom do I belong?" This is not about enslavement, rather it is a question that liberates us. We all want to belong somewhere, and it is the lack of belonging that makes us feel most lost. When we ask this question of our hearts and remember that we belong to Jesus, that we are completely seen and loved by Him, that He looks at us and says "that's My girl", we re-establish the connection between us and Him. That little blue line on our phones that is the "way" - it is reaffirmed in our hearts as we answer these questions. No matter how far we have strayed, with our gaze back on Him, we are found once again.
Blessed are the lost girls, because Jesus is the savior of the lost. He knew we would wander in thought, word and deed by things done and left undone. He knew we would all get lost. So, He came down from heaven and walked the streets of human hearts and minds to find us all, to save us all, to rescue every one of us. He became the way out of the lost place. And while heaven may be our ultimate destination where we will see Him face to face, in the meantime, we have the great privilege of living found, and on our way. And to that, this lost girl says Amen.
Imagine your life is a room. Maybe, think of it as a living room. Each element of the room represents a part of your life. The sofa may represent your friends, complete with pretty pillows all fluffed and placed just so. The coffee table may be your marriage, the center of the room. The chairs could be your kids. The knick knacks could be your hobbies. The bookshelves and all their treasures may be your extended family - rich with history of love and loss. The fireplace and mantle, your work. It's all there. You can arrange it so that it is pretty, so that it is impressive. It is Pinterest-ready.
Ultimately, however, life breezes through the room. Friends betray, the sofa frays, or possibly we betray a friend tattering the once-lovely place of rest and joy. Kids take a path that seems wrought with hurts-to-come. The marriage gets dinged up from the business of busy-ness. The mantle/career may explode for reasons we cannot predict or control. The knick knacks on the bookshelves get on our nerves. Then, what happens? We might become consumed with fixing, repairing, polishing, painting these pieces of our life room. Surely if everyone on social media can have a perfect life, we can too. So we hone in on the eye-sore, hunker down with the worry and set our minds to get it right. Maybe we become simply exhausted by our room because no matter how hard we try to get it just-so, real life blows through and undoes it.
Think about your heart-life-room. All the pieces. All the gifts. All the hurts. All the hopes. All the questions.
Where is God in this picture? We are told that He stands at the door and knocks, and anyone who hears His voice and opens the door, He will come in eat with her/him. To me that sounds like Him hanging out in my room, like lingering a while, maybe with coffee. Jesus, Himself, says that He came so that we would have life and joy to the fullest, abundantly so, and in all kinds of circumstances. He said that in this life, this world, our room, we would indeed have troubles; but in the midst of them, we can have peace and joy because He is bigger than our troubles. This makes me pause, because I am a Christian. Sometime ago, I asked Jesus to come and live in my heart. But when I look at my life-room, I wonder if I invited Him into my heart with some caveats. "Please, come be a part of my life, but don't touch my stuff... I believe in You, but it's kind of awkward with you in my room. And I don't want my neighbors to think I am weird, so how about I visit YOU on Sundays at Your house?" Then I look at my room that seems absent of peace and joy and life, and I wonder... perhaps I need to give this Jesus more freedom to move around in here.
What if we all said, "Jesus, I believe you love me. I believe you have a plan for me and that You are good. I am going to trust You with my stuff. Come into this room and have Your way."? I wonder what might happen. Well, first we may have a panic attack. As my friend Donna said, "I don't like people moving my stuff around." But after a bit, I wonder if we may see things in a different light. That in-law on the bookshelf whom we cannot figure out how to love, what if she gets propped up by a book so that you see her in a new light? That chair-child that we thought was on the way to failure, what if the failure brings humbling which then leads to a beautiful and unexpected growth in character? What if our trying to avoid the failure was actually keeping him from the gift of growth? What if the marriage needed some polishing, some TLC from a source other than you? What if we simply allowed the God of peace and love and forgiveness and healing and comfort and justice and hope to touch all our stuff?
A funny thing happens when a room is rearranged. It feels news. The light hits old things in new ways, and they start to glisten. New arrangements of furniture allow us to travel more freely in a space that once felt small and claustrophobic. People come into the space and see something is different here. The room/the life - it's the same but different. One day, we are told, when we go to the Home beyond the clouds, all things will be new. The old hurts will be gone. Tears wiped by the One who loves. And all will be better than our greatest imagination. But until then, my heart wonders... could Him dwelling in my room, arranging and tending to all my life pieces, and loving me in my real-life broken spaces be a bit of that kingdom coming now, that glory glistening here, that joy springing forth abundantly in this moment, in my room and in your room on earth as it does in Heaven?