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God's Mapquest

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Editor's Note: Stacey Lawson is off this week, but please look for the return of her column next Monday.

Wouldn't it be nice if just as we are about to embark on a new experience -- a new relationship, a new job, motherhood, or just moving to a new town -- we could print out the directions so we know what the route looks like?

Where is MapQuest when we're launching the next part of our life's journey?

We can't exactly type in where we're headed and print out the directions . . . and not only that, we can't take our familiar old baggage with us, either. Life simply presents itself and says: leap and meet yourself in a new way you've never seen before.

Of course, our survival instinct resists the change. It puts the brakes on. Why venture into unknown territory when we're managing alright just where we are? Isn't this good enough? The status quo may have stopped nourishing us long ago, but we stick to it, figuring that at least it's a comfort zone that offers security -- and we can keep trying to squeeze a trickle of sustenance from it.

Moving through my own life experiences, I didn't have a clue how one thing would lead to the next. We never do. Only in retrospect can I see that there was a road map all along, a route beautifully laid out. Yes, there were pauses, setbacks and moments when I was stopped in my tracks. Sometimes I asked someone at the gas station when I should turn next. There were a few steep hills and windy mountain roads with no shoulder or a sudden drop-off. Most of the time I was in the driver's seat, though sometimes I let someone else take the wheel, just for the heck of it. Occasionally I picked up a passenger, or two, though mostly I was on my own. But I never did drive off a cliff or total the car. I always arrived at my destination or somewhere even better, glad for the journey.

So now I've decided to exercise the law of assumption. I'm assuming the road I am on will get me exactly where I am supposed to be. Why not act as if the directions are there, revealing themselves at the perfect time?

I have learned to rely on an invisible MapQuest -- the directions for a life plan specifically designed for each one of us. Granted, this MapQuest isn't available in the least before you put your foot on the gas pedal. You have to quiet the mental chatter from the back seat that's asking: How long 'til we get there? How far to the next turn? And be confident that you will know. You have to ignore the traffic jam outside the window and listen to your internal GPS. It's always there, though until we're used to tuning in, it feels deaf and dumb.

If we're not hearing it, we may protest: Where is this guidance when I need it? Where is the voice telling me how many more dates before I meet Mr. Right? How many more interviews before I get the job?

Here are some pointers on using God's MapQuest:

- Wrong turns are allowed; so is backing up.

- Honor the red lights; a green light will always follow.

- Be patient at a long red light; there's a reason for it.

- Choose your passengers and copilots wisely.

- It's best to be in the driver's seat.

- If you are in the back seat, make sure you have chosen to sit there; don't unconsciously hand the car keys to someone.

- A dead end is good news -- It's time for a new route.

- Watch for signs; there are always plenty along the road.

Knowing that God's MapQuest is always available, I dare to drive into unexplored territory, to take the interstate, or a little byway, into the places of my wildest dreams and be amazed to find what is waiting there for me. I usually have an end destination in mind, only to find when I arrive that the vistas are different -- and often better than I imagined.

And here's the best part: The internal conflicting directions -- go here; no wait, go there -- are fewer because I'm finally cooperating with the master plan. And for that I'm simply grateful.

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