When I was a kid there were really only a few rules when it came to playing in the neighborhood; stay on the block, play anywhere outside and come home when called (or when the streetlights came on – whichever came first.)
For the most part, I didn’t stray from the rules often. I wasn’t the adventurer/wanderer type and hated getting in trouble. But I did push the boundaries from time to time. =) I remember being around 7 and asking if I could go one block further to skate at the corner church parking lot because the cement was smooth and fast and much more fun than cracked sidewalks and bumpy asphalt streets. I remember being a little nervous, but it was on the same street and I could practically see my house from the two blocks down.
But then it happened….a red-haired girl from my second grade class came walking by and asked if I wanted to come to her house to see her Easy Bake Oven, and when she pointed to where she lived, it was just another half a block adjacent to the church….
I was all prepared to say, “I can’t – I have to stay on the block” when from out of nowhere, I heard someone (me) say, “OK!”
As we walked the short way to her house, I knew full well I was disobeying, but it seemed a small thing and did I mention she had an Easy Bake Oven?!
I must have lost track of time playing, because when I left the house, it was already beginning to get dark. I remember hearing her screen door slam as I stood on the front lawn and tried to get my bearings. I can still remember the feeling of my heart pounding in my chest as panic started to grip me. Was the church this way? Wait….is that it over there? No one knew where I was, and I would have never have been permitted to go that far from home on my own.
After walking past a line of trees, I was able to see the church, which pointed me in the direction home. I crossed the street and ran barefooted, skates slung over my shoulder and didn’t stop running until I was past the church, down the street and onto the safe zone of my own block, where I knew I belonged. I ran home, put my skates away and am pretty sure remained a model child for the rest of the night!
Though it’s been a while since I’ve been lost and really had no idea where I was and didn’t know how to get home (thank you, GPS!), it doesn’t seem like so long ago at all that I felt lost in other ways, fearful of a place I never expected to be and didn’t know how to find my way out of. And though it may not have been the church on Elm & Redington this time that showed me the way home, it was no less the foundation of faith poured into my life that helped me to navigate those dark days. Though I may have felt lost, I see so clearly now that God never lost sight of me, which means I was never lost at all…..
I’m not sure who may need to hear this on Day 23, but it’s ok if the way seems unclear, and it’s even a little (or a lot) scary not knowing what’s ahead. God knows where you are, he knows what the future holds for you – and he’ll be with you every step of the way. What a comfort to know we are never truly lost – and that we have a loving Father who will always lead us back home.