Life lesson #438: Listen to the locals

When we were travelers

wait, that makes us sound like gypsies…

When we were traveling, I became very good at researching the places we wanted to visit.  If you ever need an awesome itinerary for a three day trip to Vermont, I can hook you up.  I’d spend hours reading through travel guides and websites, trying to make the most out of our time and budget.  And I have to say that while it definitely paid off, it was also kind of exhausting sometimes.

One of the coolest things we did was a guided tour of Plymouth.  I know, that sounds totally lame.  We watched the sun set over Martha’s Vineyard, kayaked in Half Moon Bay, saw the Grand Canyon twice, and I’m here talking about a history tour of Plymouth?

But I remember that trip specifically because we just decided not to do much research and just go with a guide.  This little man named Leo, complete with Pilgrim outfit and scruffy white beard, walked us all through town on a beautiful October afternoon.  With each stop in front of a colonial home or Indian burial mound, he revealed the fascinating story of the early settlement.

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I could have researched all this information.  Armed with a good map and a guide book, we could have made our way through town on our own.

But with Leo taking care of all the logistics, we were able to just drift along and enjoy the details.  He knew where we were going, so our minds were able to just focus on the journey.  It would have been harder to relax if we were simultaneously trying to navigate and enjoy the ride.

It’s the same with Jesus.

I can pour a lot of exhausting effort into planning the “perfect” way for my life to unfold.  At each turn, I can be armed with ideas about how this particular stage should happen.  But if I try to navigate through life myself, I’m too focused on being at the wheel to enjoy the simple pleasure of sticking my arm out the passenger window and feeling the breeze.  If I’m in the driver’s seat, I can’t close my eyes and savor the ride.

The best way to travel is to talk to the locals.  While we planned ahead most of the time, we always dropped our itineraries to do things our innkeepers or shop owners would tell us about.  They knew what was really worth seeing and what tourist-traps to skip.  If we’d stuck to our plan, we’d have missed a gorgeous afternoon on a Maine peninsula watching the waves meet a rocky lighthouse.

If I’m so willing to listen to others’ expertise based on the fact that they know the area better, what about God?  He promises to go before us – and He made the universe and us – so wouldn’t His plan be the best?  I can research and have ideas about what would be best for us in the future, but He knows the road ahead.  He may lead us to some sharp curves, but it’s because He knows what’s down there is worth experiencing.  The road ahead may not be clear, but He knows His way through.

After all, no matter where you are, He’s a local.

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