A few weeks ago I was in Los Angeles for the day with my friend Katie. Our day together was actually her Christmas gift (as in, 10 months late, not two months early.) My friends and I like to do theme gifts every year and the 2011 theme was “something to-do.” Being the humble person I am, I gifted Katie a day with me exploring LA.
I’ve mentioned Katie a few times here recently. She’s my twin–a blond who looks a lot like me and is equally tall. I may have become her friend purely to enjoy borrowing shoes and clothes, but her humor, terrible voice and widsom are what have kept our friendship going all these years.
Katie and I both grew up in Southern California so Los Angeles might seem like an odd choice, but I’ve actually never spent much time there. It’s is a sprawling mass of freeways and concrete, and unlike San Francisco or New York there isn’t really an easy mode of transportation other than a car. I knew there were plenty of cute neighborhoods to see but they feel a lot more spread out than other cities, plus traffic is always horrendous and makes exploring a test of patience. In college I refused to drive back to Santa Barbara unless it was late evening because then I could speed past downtown without getting stuck in gridlock.
We hit traffic on the way there, but I loved having time in the car to catch up with my friend, so it didn’t matter at all. We went to Drybar in West Hollywood to get our hair styled, and then checked out all the starts on the Walk of Fame before grabbing lunch at Unami Burger. We capped off the day by getting dessert at MILK which was a sugar addict’s dream come true. It really couldn’t have been a better day.
After saying our goodbyes, I continued on to my next destination: Grandpa Frank’s birthday party in Newport. I was driving my in-laws car for the weekend which has a GPS system. Usually I have a fairly good sense of direction and will often “wing it” when it comes to finding a new location. If I really need help navigating then I’ll use Mapquest on my iPhone. The talking GPS was a nice novelty though, as I can admittedly be somewhat erratic when trying to drive and look at my tiny phone screen. I decided to give the GPS system a chance.
It’s funny how much trust I had to put into that tiny GPS. Unlike my iPhone, which allows me a glance at the full directions and map, this particular GPS only gave me one direction at a time. All was fine and dandy until it started leading me away from the freeway I usually take, preferring side streets instead.
“Is this going to be a good thing, or a bad thing?” I thought. “A short cut or a terrible detour? I know I’ll eventually get there but will I regret not trusting my instincts?
It made me think about how I often treat God’s directions.
In my own life, I prefer to know the big picture. I want the map laid out in front of me on the dining room table so that I can know all the major intersections and turns. It’d be nice to know how many kids, when they’ll arrive, and if we’re going to live in Sacramento forever or go somewhere else. It would have been REALLY nice to have a little bit of a heads up on the whole cancer thing.
But here’s the thing. I don’t need a five year plan; I only need one direction at a time. I know the hope to which he has called me, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints (Ephesians 1:18) so all the twist, turns, stoplights, detours, closed freeways, traffic, car accidents, and carpool lanes are just part of the drive; they don’t determine the destination.
The next time you need a little faith building, take your GPS for a drive through Los Angeles. Turn Ryan Seacrest down for a few minutes and listen for the robotic voice telling you to turn right in 250 yards. Be reminded that when you’re listening, you know exactly where to go. Not a moment too soon, not a moment too late.