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“Don’t you think that you should ask someone directions?”
“I know exactly where we are!”
“When are we going to get there daddy?”
“Why don’t you follow the GPS on your phone?”
“I know a shortcut? But I could have sworn it was somewhere around here.”
Now you know the essence of my traveling life. It isn’t that I am lost that is so frustrating it is the resolve that I have that I will not ask anyone for help. I am sure that you can relate.
What is it that makes me not want to ask for help? To be vulnerable, to lose control to admit that I might be wrong seems unthinkable in these situations. This was illustrated again to me last week. You may have seen that I use a Mac laptop for everything. I am part of what has been called the Mac cult. Carol and I had an Apple IIe computer and her Apple Computer experiences go back well into childhood. We are devoted to Apple Computers. That is why it was so distressing to me over a month ago when I started having problems getting to my emails here at the church.
Macs are so easy; there must be a simple solution. So, I tinkered with the settings and nothing happened. So what was I to do? I tried to ignore it, thinking that if I did this it would right itself on its own. In the meantime everyone who was trying to contact me during the day was getting frustrated. Finally, I relented to our office manager Maribeth’s entreaties to ask my wife Carol if she could figure it out. She could not figure out the problem and so I determined to ignore the problem for some more time. Maribeth brought in her husband one day to look at it and she even tinkered with it herself. The only result was that for a day I was not able to use my computer’s Internet at home or the office.
When I could use it again at home I figured that I better not tempt fate so I would ignore it some more. It was getting frustrating, but I didn’t want to admit that I didn’t know what to do. So, what did I do? I complained, blamed the phone company, and dug in my heels. I wasn’t going to do anything. Then it finally became unbearable; I was not able to complete major work during office hours because I needed access to my email account. I could not ignore it any longer. So, Maribeth called the Computer Geek Squad to come to our rescue. In came the only man that who understood what the problem was.
Let me tell you it was a humbling experience. With one click on my computer he showed me that I had been on the wrong old network, and that everyone else in the church was using a new one now. After one click of the mouse I had Internet access. Presto magico! I felt stupid for wasting a whole month when the solution was so simple. Why had I not been able to ask for help? My mama was right, I was a hardheaded lad who needed to listen to others more. Pride, control, fear, and low self-esteem are no longer excuses for me when it comes to asking for help. They are what I just called them, excuses.
I know that I am not alone. There are some of you that have put off doing some of the simplest things in your life because you refuse to ask someone else for help. The iconic American rugged individualist may be great for characters in Steinbeck, Kerouac or Jack London novels, but for the reality of our spiritual and practical lives those model stinks.
If we take the example shown to us by the Ethiopian Eunuch this morning we would do well. What does this confused foreigner do when he is stopped by the side of the road, reading the holy text of Isaiah and does not understand its meaning? Phillip, guided by an angel comes to his side. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Phillip asks. This dignified man could have dismissed Phillip. Why should someone like him have to admit to someone of Phillip’s station in life that he did not understand something? After all Phillip was like a Mexican day worker to this person. Instead he turns to one who could provide an answer. The one who happens to be passing by gives him information so that he can have his questions answered and it changes his life.
You see sometimes things seem much more intractable in our minds than they are in reality. Whether it is suffering in silence about a loveless marriage, about the strange thoughts that are floating around in your head, the sadness that will not go away, the parenting conundrum of not acting like your parents when you seem a whole lot like your parents, swearing that you will not touch another drop of liquor until the night roles around again, or being able to admit that you want faith but do not know where to start.
We don’t have to be the ones ignoring the 7-11 driving aimlessly down a road lost. We can be like the Eunuch and ask those who are passing on this road with us sent by angels to explain the way to faith and a much better life.
There is hope for those pigheaded amongst us. There is salvation for us if we are only willing to be led.
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