The first time I ever got seriously lost, I was on a mission trip in New York City the summer between my freshman and sophomore year of high school. We were broken up into teams by the mission organization we’d partnered with for the week, and told that we had to get back to the church we were staying at from Union Station. Even with an adult, navigating the metro in an unfamiliar city during rush hour was a terrifying experience, especially since the three people we asked for help pointed us in all different directions. If nothing else, I learned that I don’t want to be caught on the metro during rush hour again unless I know exactly where I’m going.
So when I heard that OneLife was going to be dropping us off at various locations around Lancaster City and give us an hour to make it to Central Market, I wasn’t quite as scared as I was in NYC. After all, I’m more familiar with Lancaster, it’s significantly smaller, and no train was involved in the exercise. My group spent the hour talking with each other, wandering around the city, and enjoying the snowfall…at least I enjoyed the snow.
I wouldn’t say I was super uncomfortable with getting lost in Lancaster, but as I processed through the experience, memories of four years ago bubbled up in my memory. That awful feeling in the pit of my stomach when our group realized that we’d gotten on (and off) the wrong train and had no clue where we were. Walking around in circles as we tried to figure out where we were. The fear of wondering if we’d make it back to the church in time for dinner…or before dark. Not having our cell phones on us only made the situation even more scary. When we finally did make it back to the church, I flopped onto my air mattress and firmly decided that I hated getting lost.
And yet I think one of the most surprising things I’ve discovered since OneLife has started is that it’s okay to be lost. In the book Even Better Than Eden, the author, Nancy Guthrie begins the book by talking about an empty place inside every single one of us. An empty place created by the loss of something, something that never was, or perhaps caused by something that try as you might, you can’t exactly pinpoint. A sort of emptiness that, as Nancy Guthrie puts it, “haunts you as a nagging ache” or “overwhelms you as a relentless agony” depending on the day.
I sat in my apartment reading chapter one, and felt like the book was speaking right to me. Yes, I feel a sort of emptiness inside myself that frustrates me some days and practically drives me up a wall others. An emptiness that I can’t explain. An emptiness that makes me feel like all I’m doing is walking in circles. That makes me feel like I’m lost. Like I’m wandering in an unknown city without any sense of direction or a cell phone. This sense of lostness feels like my biggest problem some days. If I could just get rid of it, everything would be perfect.
But what I’m learning is that this feeling I hate so much is actually a HUGE blessing. It’s a constant reminder of just how much I need God. Because if it wasn’t there and everything was perfect, I wouldn’t need Him. God fills the emptiness with Himself and in doing so, He shows me that He’s always there, even in the darkest, hardest times. He’s shown me that He’s faithful, both in my own past and in the lives of others. He loves me with an outrageous love of another kind that I just begin to catch a glimpse of when I allow myself to acknowledge the emptiness that I feel. He is walking me through the wilderness, which, although scary at times is also beautiful. I can hold onto the hope that He’s not going to leave me there. He’s leading me to something better. Something so unbelievably better. And so for as foreign as it is to me, I’m learning to let myself be okay with being lost. Being empty. Being in the wilderness. Because only then do I truly begin to understand how much of a good good Father He is.
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