January 31st, 2009 by Elaine Mehn
Thoughts Along the Way©
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. John 16:13-14
Map reading in Tokyo is so much different from map reading in a U.S. city. In the U.S. the streets aren’t always laid out in a nice grid formation but they do have names and an indication if they are north, south, east or west of whatever the central point is. I often joke that Tokyo streets were laid out by a drunken snake. In truth, the ancient system of streets was to confuse the enemy and make it more difficult for an attacking army to reach the center of the town where the castle was. When visitors come, I always warn them that they should not plan to walk around the block as it may not bring them back to where they started. Added to this free form street layout is the fact that only major streets have names. Side streets, which includes almost all of the streets, have no name or number. They simply exist. Because of this seemingly random street system, map books in Japan are published with a great deal of detail. We have ones for our side of Tokyo that gives such detail as gas stations, convenience stores, restaurants and bus stops. You can also get maps that show a particular city, some even show who owns in each house.
Our map book that includes Machida, a city of near 500,000, is about 100 pages. There have been times when we have gotten so lost that I don’t even know which page of the map to begin to match the squiggle we are driving on with the squiggle in the book. These are the times when you pray to find a bus going to a train station. You follow the bus so then you at least know where you are so you can start again.
To become a Christian you first have to know where you are – a sinner in rebellion against God. Christ not only shows the way we are to follow but He provides the means to follow as well. He provides the bus for us to follow (Christ’s life), the map for us to look at (Scripture), and the car for us to travel in (the Holy Spirit). The Father knows where all of the one-way streets are and where all of the streets are going. He knows the dead ends and cul-de-sacs. He is never lost and never confused!
To get un-lost, first you have to admit that you are lost. Next you have to know where you are so you can figure out how to get where you want to go. This is true for streets in Tokyo and for my spiritual life as well. When I became a Christ follower, I started by admitting that I was a sinner in need of a Savior. This gave me a starting point and a map book but even better it gave me a guide, the Holy Spirit. It also gave me a goal – to live a life pleasing to God. Does this mean I never struggle with confusion or doubt? No, I am still far from perfect and still find times when I feel so confused that my only hope is to follow the “bus” of Christ back to the cross. Then I know where I am and who I am once again. God has promised to never abandon me but He has provided the Holy Spirit to lead, guide, and work in me.
Prayer: Father, thank You for providing all I need not only for salvation but for every moment of my life. Forgive me for the many times I take my eyes off Jesus and try to figure out how to do things on my own. I am so thankful for all of those times that I struggle and fail because they remind me of who I am and how much I need You. Thank you for Your continual guidance and provisions. I need You every moment of every day.