The first time I met with the pastoral search committee of the church I now serve was in the middle of a Vermont winter. I drove across the border of a state I’d never been to before and followed my GPS as it led me past ice fishing shacks, up mountains, and into a snow-covered valley. After the interview I turned the GPS back on, and it took me a slightly different way. I drove through unpaved roads right outside the Green Mountain National Forest, following turn by turn, until I came to a sign posted on the road:
Journey through Lent: Day Three
“Your GPS is wrong! Road closed in winter months.”
I turned around, with the automated voice of my GPS guy yelling angrily at me to turn back the other way, and I eventually made my way back home. But that sign stuck with me for some time. Without it, I would have gone down the road and, with my Southerner’s driving skills, probably would have gotten stuck in the snow. I know now that I live here that the road becomes impassible in winter, and that the sign has been put up to keep others from getting into dangerous situations. I love that I live in the kind of town where neighbors do that for strangers.
But I also like that sign because it reminds me that the journey doesn’t always turn out the way we think it will. We might put our trust in the “sure things”, like a good GPS, but in the end life throws up its share of curves in the road. Sometimes the wisest thing we can do is to ignore the directions we have been given, and apply what we learn from others on our journey.
I think Lent is a lot like that. Most of us prefer lives of safety and assurance. But one of the great truths of life is that, despite our best laid plans, we don’t always get them. Lent is a season that teaches us to spiritually rely on something greater than ourselves, and to tap into that strength to become adaptive disciples, capable of continuing the journey even when we reach a seeming dead end.
To me, that’s the story of the Resurrection, the event we are preparing ourselves spiritually to celebrate. What happened for Christ on Easter morning can happen for us too in everyday ways. Resurrection happens to all of us. Lent is about preparing our hearts for it, and trusting in it, even when the GPS of the world tell us we are heading in the wrong direction.