Finding the Way
My son’s class in school has been drawing maps. They show different facts about the States. Aside from what they illustrate in social studies, I always enjoy the bright colors that are used. Probably you too have been making maps in school and have had the fun of coloring them.
I live at Mohonk Lake, New York. If you wanted to visit me, to see some of the interesting old maps I have collected, you would probably use a map to see where I am.
When you come to use maps along the highways, signs are needed in addition. They are of several kinds. They may have the name of a city with number of miles and an arrow; they may consist of a route number to reassure you that you are still going on the right road or they may say “dead end” so you won’t turn up the wrong street. Signs are an important aid to travel. They are keys for fitting what is on the ground with what is on the map.
When you travel on water in motor boats and sail boats you should have charts to travel up rivers and along coasts. Should you wish to see what these “water maps” are like, stop at a Public Library and ask the librarian to show you one.
If you ever put together a radio you probably followed a “wiring diagram.” When a house is built you will see the builders looking at “blueprints.” These are both really kinds of maps.
While you are traveling a route between two places you are pretty apt to find some rough spots. There may be construction going on, or a detour, or snow and ice in winter. Road travel is generally not all perfectly smooth and easy in spite of the fine efforts of our highway department.
Other activities besides highway travel may have rough roads. When you are at the state in multiplication tables where you have to think whether 7 times 9 is 51 or 63 or 79, you cannot do a very hard arithmetic problem. If you are learning to bat a baseball you have to train your muscles to swing the bat where you want before you can “keep your eye on the ball,” let alone place a hit alongside center field.
Learning to play the piano can be very discouraging. It takes a lot of practice to be able to hit the right key when your eye is on the music. All the time you are mastering this, you should keep in mind that this is just part of the real job, which is to play music with expression so that others will enjoy hearing it.
The same is true of religion. Singing hymns has to be learned before they can be sung with feeling. Reading the Bible so that you can understand it requires guidance and practice. Real praying is not easy to learn. Don’t get discouraged when these ways of traveling toward God seem to have a lot of hills.
Early in His teaching Jesus told His Disciples: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matt. 5:8). I think that the “pure in heart” means those that keep on trying to do right no matter how hard it is.
The Road of Life
We all need maps, charts and diagrams to help us travel through life. We need something to tell us how to get along with people and how to find God. There is no colored map with lines for these routes.
The Bible is a map for our trip through life. It tells us how to get there in words, not in pictures. There is color too, but you have to see it through your mind.
“Consider the lilies of the field–Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” There are even dead end street signs: Jesus said: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man would go to law with thee, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.” (Matt. 5:38-40).
At the “Last Supper” the Disciples were trying to find out from Jesus all the last minute “route” information they could. He said very simply: “I am the way and the truth and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” (See John 14:1-7.)
As we read about the Disciples, immediately after Jesus’ death, we find that they were discouraged. Not only were they lost and without a map, but they could not see where they were going.
The road of life for each of us is hard and discouraging while we are learning to travel it, but there is a way, if we keep looking ahead, and the end of the trip is worth all the rough roads we have to travel in order to find it.
Reading the Bible and thinking about what Jesus taught help us find our own road through life because it shows where we should be headed. Jesus leads us in keeping our eyes on God—not our outside eyes that we use in baseball, but our inside eyes. These are the ones we learn to use in Meeting. We can often see God’s map best when our eyes are closed.