Monday, January 3, 2011

Pulling on Push

“This means push, not pull,” my guide quickly explained, correcting my efforts to look like an obvious foreigner or complete moron. All day today I’ve tooled around the big city of Wiesbaden, attempting to register as a resident. All day, I’ve relied entirely on the wonderful help of an Immanuel Baptist Church member who has lived here for many years. She was my guide. She speaks fluent German, and is an absolute pro at settling foreigners into the country. For example, who would have guessed that one must first wait in a line downstairs, draw a number, then wait in a different line upstairs?

I have many other guides right now just like the one who helped me today. Many others! Some are experts on the way the church has functioned over the years. These invaluable saints can tell me what pitfalls to avoid, and how to overcome various churchy issues that require sensitivity. I also have guides that can tell me how to experience as much “American-ese” as possible in this distant land. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for going native. It’s just that every now and then I like to eat Lucky Charms! Even my GPS is an irreplaceable and gifted guide, as I attempt to navigate through the little streets and lanes, fumbling with a manual transmission. Driving a stick shift is not one of my spiritual gifts, by the way.

In life, we need guides. Someone along the way must teach us how to do the things that person has already figured out. As I was guided about today, it occurred to me that there are many life moments for which no earthly guide will do. What do we do when our marriages are strained? What do we do when we face two viable job opportunities? How do we know what direction to go? What do we do in the face of loss, the death of someone we love? How do we know what we are meant to do with our lives? What is our role in our church? For that matter, how do we even decide which church to join?

For us, there is good news. We already have a real, wonderful, and ever present Guide—the Spirit of the Living God. If we would simply invest the time into learning how to listen to his voice, we would find a depth of guidance that would change our lives forever. It takes time to discern this voice of guidance. And, frankly, we will not always get the directions and answers we want. Yet, as much as we might like to pull on the push door, it only makes us look foolish—especially when the guide keeps whispering, “This is the way, walk in it” Isaiah 30:21.  

1 comment:

  1. It's your mama, son. As I read your blog tonight, memories of a time some 40 years ago when I served as a "guide" to a now very dear friend came to mind. She came to Columbus County by way of escape from Hungary. Her journey was a long and frightening one which included a painful separation from her husband and young daughter. We worked together and had so much fun after hours as I showed her which doors to push and which ones to pull in our town. The most interesting experience, though, was teaching her to drive. She spoke English but not completely fluently, and we laughed so much as I tried to help her understand our terminology. But that is a story all its own! I chuckled today as I read your blog about the person who was so kind to you, and I remembered thinking on one of those days 40 years ago, "I hope someone will "do unto others ...," should one of my future family members need help. I love you.