Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Like Dorothy I want to go home. I want to go home where I have friends, love and support. Instead God has put me in the wilderness of South Dakota. It has felt a bit like being in OZ. I am trying to follow the road to get home. No, not necessarily home to Tennessee, Connecticut or even Brooklyn. But home with Jesus - and not necessarily heaven either... Just a sense of settled-ness and home. Knowing I am doing what God would have me do.

I preached a sermon one time, There Are No Straight Lines in God’s Kingdom.  As with many of my sermons, it starts with an ordinary event or conversation.  My husband and I were driving in South Dakota and saw some trees. Now in other parts of the country seeing trees is not a big deal. It is however in South Dakota.  There are so few trees that you tend to get excited when you see them.

These particular trees were planted in a straight line. I assume they were planted to break the wind that shrieks over the prairie. My husband remarked that these trees were not natural. What he meant was that they were planted, they didn’t just grow naturally. To that I replied, yes, they must be because God doesn’t plant in straight lines.

The other morning in the wee hours of the morning, I had some God time. It seemed God was trying to show me something. I am not sure I really got what He was trying to show me. I don’t think it was necessarily profound but I saw a road with a curve.

So often, we want to know exactly where we are going. We want straight lines. In the development of South Dakota, the founders were so obsessed with straight lines. If you look at a map of the roads, it is like looking at graph paper.

If there is a curve, it is called a correction. As I understand it, it had to do with keep the roads perfectly aligned with North/South and East/West. The roads are no further than one mile apart and are designated by the miles from the border, sort of like mile marker signs on the interstate. If you are going North/South it is an Avenue. If you are going East/West it is a Street.  I remember this because there is a strong N sound in Avenue and therefore it has to do with North. Likewise, there is a strong E sound in Street and therefore you are going East.  No one ever tells you to take a right turn or left turn it is always turn East or South, etc.

South Dakota is an extreme example of our need to have our lives orderly. And yet, God is not orderly in that way. I think God can be absolutely messy. He doesn’t care about straight lines. He doesn’t care that everything be organized. Therefore, we have this conflict with our ways and God’s ways.

This last couple of years has been very hard for me. It seems there is no pattern to my life. Everything has been turned inside out and upside down – definitely, no straight lines. The path has been more like a rugged curving road where you have no idea what is over the horizon or around the curve. I have wondered at times if I would fall off the road completely, or go over a cliff. But as I approach 2010 I realize I am still on the path.  

Sort of reminds me of a song we used to sing in church:
My Lord knows the way through the wilderness
And all I have to do is follow
My Lord knows the way through the wilderness
And all I have to do is follow
Strength for today is mine all the way and 
all that I need for tomorrow
My Lord knows the way through the wilderness
And all I have to do is follow


  1. Hi Joyce,

    Glad to be a follower of your blog.

    I have a tendency to believe that God is a God of order. It is the world, the flesh and the devil that brings about chaos and throws a curve into our straight line of direction.

    To quote, "I have wondered sometimes if I would fall off the road completely or go over the edge". While traveling through the curves of our life, if we are honest with ourself and others, most would have to admit that they have had similar feeling such as you have described. I know I have.

    Psalms 3:6 and 119:105 are just a small example of what the Lord has to say about the paths we take and we can pin our hope on the promises the Lord makes concerning our journey through them.

    My favorite is Psalm 91. It shows how the Lord will take us through those curves that seem to beset us.
    ...I will say of the Lord, You are my refuge and my fortress: my God, in You I will trust.
    Surely, He will deliver me from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
    He will cover me with His feathers and under His wing, I will trust: His truth will be my shield and buckler.
    I will not be afraid of the terror by night or the arrows that fly by day; nor the pestilence that walks in darkness or the destruction that wastes at noonday. A thousand may fall at my side, and ten thousand at my right hand but it will not come to me.
    ...Because I have made the Lord, the most High, my refuge and habitation, no evil will befall me, neither will any plague come near my dwelling.
    For He has given His angels charge over me to keep me in all my ways. They shall bear me up in their hands, least I dash my foot against a stone. I will tread upon the lion and adder...they shall be trampled under my feet.
    Because I have set my love upon the Lord, He will deliver me and set me on high because He knows my name.
    I will call upon Him and He will answer me. He will be with me in times of trouble. He will deliver and honor me. He will satisfy me with a long life and show me my salvation.

    Joyce, He will continue to lead you on the path, curves and all, in 2010, straight on through to eternity. His word says that He has your name tattooed (permanently written) in the palm of His hand and Jesus promises that anyone that has been given to Him by our Father in Heaven, He will, in nowise, allow them to be plucked out of His hand.

    Be blessed my friend,

  2. Joyce, I've found that God's ways are different from mine. But His ways are always the best for me. I've learned that through tough times.

    I'm so glad you found me and our common bond of Brooklyn. I've been looking for my bag of old photos and I found them. I hope to be posting some throughout the month of January. Maybe you'll recognize some of the people.

    Do you know that my cousin married one of the Braaten's? Linda and Ron Braaten are missionaries in Belize now. We all stay in touch on Facebook.

    As I was reading your post I thought of the song "Where you lead, I will follow". It may not be as we anticipate but it will be where He wants us.

    Many blessings,

  3. @Jan - thanks for all the encouragement - actually I was pretty encouraged when I wrote this - it is sort of me being "reflective."

    @Debbie -- yes, I am excited about our new internet friendship. I am sure somewhere along the line as little girls we met. Not sure when or how but I would imagine we did. I can't wait to see the pictures.
    Re: the song - my "theme" song for this year has been "Have Thine Own Way."

  4. A town in Florida ( St. Petersburg) is also laid out that way too. I found it as an answer to never getting lost if you knew the address you were looking for.

    Before my salvation, I was constantly lost and running into dead ends and dark places along with the continual never ending circles.

    Along the way I found a divine GPS system. It leads me over hills, valleys, and the never ending circles in life. It leads me on a straight path to my destination. It never fails me even in my times of doubt. It straightens out the curves I run into. It give me light in a dark world. It shows me the way always faithfully. I call Him GOD.

  5. Yes, I am thank for the Holy Spirit GPS. For me however, I have found that my path is never straight in front of me but it does leads straight through the Kingdom of God and to the Kingdom of Heaven.
    I don't mean to imply that I am lost but that I do not see where I am going sometimes. Sort of like that ride at Disney World - Space Mountain...the one that is a roller coaster but in the dark.
    God is very unpredictable and anytime I have ever tried to put Him in a box I found it a big mistake.


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