It sure takes the place of turn right at the big red barn with a quilt square on the front, cross over a bridge and a railroad track, then go west at the next intersection.
Clear directions are important.
I ran into a snag on the Garman when driving from Mount Vernon to Danville. The GPS kept telling showing my vehicle as driving through the middle of a field and telling me repeatedly to get back on the highway — even though I was on the highway driving in the right direction. I finally figured out that it was because that is a brand new section of road not recognized by the current information in the GPS.
I wish all of life’s directions were as clear as having a voice or a screen saying, “turn right at the next red light,” or “proceed straight ahead for the next 43 miles.”
We may think we are headed exactly toward a very well-known destination. Suddenly we come upon an unexpected or even unwanted bend in the road. Or perhaps the bridge is out. What then?
There are times that I wish God would just give me a big old sign in the sky saying, “Judy — walk this way.” Things are almost never that clear.
But he does say, “Follow me…” When we don’t know where He’s leading, we have to pay very close attention to make sure we don’t get lost or get on the wrong path.
My plan for retirement was for three years from now. Thirty-three years and out with my house and major debts all tucked safely away. I did not expect an accident at school on the first day of testing in 2011 to change my life forever and set me down a path that I am currently on.
I didn’t expect to have to have a total knee replacement.
I didn’t expect to run out of sick days before I was recovered.
I didn’t expect that when the doctor’s office said I needed a six month disability leave of absence that it would not be honored because I have too much service time in the Harlan County School System. At 29.5 years I have worked too long to be given the same consideration that someone at 25 years would be given. It is crazy to me. It’s like being punished for working too long. And yet I realize it isn’t personal. Just business. Just policy.
I didn’t expect to be forced toward retirement because of a set of crazy rules this near 30 years service. I could have lived with 30 years and out if I had to, but I never imagined that I would find myself struggling to make the right decision one day sooner than that.
All of these twists and turns on my path were certainly unexpected. I have given 29.5 years of my life to teaching school at Wallins Elementary School. I have loved my school, my students, and most of my parents. I have loved the faculty, administration, and support staff who have made Wallins such a great place to be all of these years. I always felt safe there, and felt my life and my efforts were making a difference. At the moment it sure feels like I am invisible, an employee number rather than a person. And yet I do realize that it is not personal — just policy.
I still don’t know how things are going to play out. A scheduled doctor’s visit this week will tell the tale.
Looking at the map of my life, I am not sure what comes next. I hadn’t planned beyond this school year. I had dreams for the future, but they were still in the distance.
I know that a lot of people are praying for me, and I absolutely appreciate it more than words can say. Those prayers will have as much effect on my future as plugging in the Garman and setting a destination. I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know who holds my future. I have put my trust in the Lord and I am 100 percent positive that He will direct my paths.
A year from now, all of this mental, physical, and emotional anxiety about an unexpected bend in the road will have vanished. Things will have worked out one way or the other.
I expect blessings on the road that I’m on. The Bible promises, “In all your ways acknowledge Him and HE will direct your paths.” That sure sounds better than a GPS to me.
Knowing God’s will sometimes seems like a very elusive thing. We struggle and strain to try to figure out what is best or what appears to be the best course of action. It is worse when God seems silent and we aren’t hearing anything or getting any answers that we recognize. But often on the other side of a situation, when we look back, it becomes crystal clear that even in our deepest moments of frustration and confusion, God truly was directing our paths. He was closing doors that needed to be closed and opening doors that needed to be open to change our direction, and change the course of our future.
I’m getting better at trusting God in the unknown parts of my life. He has shown himself faithful to me over the years. This is not the first broken bit of road I’ve had to travel. It is not the first bend that I couldn’t see past. It is not the first time I’ve had to cope with a “Bridge Out” roadblock. Yet here I am — still standing, still trusting, still knowing that a loving Father is guiding me.
I am reminded of the Psalmist David’s words, “What is man that You are mindful of Him?” — Psalm 8:4. The New Living Translation says, “What are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?”
I stand in awe that the Creator of the Universe cares for me. He knows me by name. He has a plan for my life that is for good. At 61 years old, I have no idea how much life I have left, but I surely feel that I have a lot of living left to do, adventures, surprises, blessings and good things in store. Even though I cannot see where this unexpected bend in the road is taking me, in my heart I know it’s going to be okay.