Seventy nine year old Hank Edwards used a guidebook from 1914 to plan his holiday – and got lost for two days in a forest that wasn’t there 90 years ago. He felt rather foolish.
Hank had been in love with the eastern Bayreuth area of Germany from childhood. As a boy and since, he’d explored the area in his imagination, using the guidebook his father had bought. Now he discovered the hard way that two world wars and a massive reforestation programme meant most of the Bayreuth in the book no longer existed.
Reality often fails to match our dreams. Our hopes for the future can become inflexible, more geared to what we wanted once than to the best possibilities in the current situation. Our goals and expectations need to change so they become more realistic. But sometimes we remain stuck in the past, unable to see what’s often clear to others – that the map we’re using to find our way through life is out of date.
God can sometimes make this clear to us. In an Old Testament tale, an angel blocks the path Balaam was travelling on. His donkey understood this was to show God didn’t want him to go that way long before he did. For us, such intervention might take the form of advice from friends, an unexpected hitch in our lives, a surprising but attractive alternative which catches our imagination. Or it can come in moments of quiet reflection when, consciously in God’s presence, we take stock of where we are and where we want to get to in our lives. When we do that, we may need to be open to the possibility of redefining the future we hope to achieve in the light of our ever-changing experience of ourselves and our lives.
Read: The angel of the Lord stood in the road to oppose him (Numbers 22.22)
Rejoice: in the delights flexibility and spontaneity can bring.
Reflect: what new dreams might I develop where old ones have become unrealistic?
Remember: as I think about my future, to leave space for God’s intervention.
Resolve: always to be open to diversions from what I’ve planned.