Well, it happened. My worst fear came true as soon as I reached Paris: we got lost. We had to take two different trains to reach our hotel which was about an hour and a half from the airport. After finally purchasing our train passes (post-13 hours of travel and remember, those people in France speak French), we jumped on the train that arrived at the spot where our train was scheduled to arrive. We hopped on and settled in, following the route mapped out on the wall of the train. We made several stops and were enjoying the scenery when my daughter alerted me that the stop we just passed was actually on a different line.
Apparently the route split and we realized were were now headed in the wrong direction. At the next stop we immediately disembarked and stood, perplexed, on a pretty much abandoned platform, wondering what to do next. There were only two people available to attempt to ask, in French, about how to get ourselves back on track. They were two college-age girls, so at least they seemed fairly harmless or non-threatening to two lost girls from Illinois. We mustered up our best French accents and asked, “Parlez vous Anglais?” (“Do you speak English?”). And what do ya know!? They were from New Jersey! They spoke fluent English and French. They helped us figure out where we had gone wrong. It was an easy fix.
We had to get on a train going backwards about 2 stops and transition to a different train in the same terminal. A couple minutes later, another train dropped off an older couple who had also gotten on the wrong train. Except they were from Spain and only spoke Spanish. They had made the same mistake we had. They approached these same girls and even though it may sound like I am making this up, those two girls also happened to be fluent in Spanish. By the time we got to the new train, there was a nice little posse following these girls, asking them all kinds of questions and relying on them to get us where we needed to go.
The rest of the week was a series of seamless traveling from trains to Metros to Ubers. But as I was talking through real life stuff with a friend yesterday, this situation came to me as a visual for how my life has often gone. Maybe yours too. There have been numerous times in my life where I have gotten on the wrong train. The wrong path. The path that leads to a destination that was not where I intended to land. Sometimes it was because I was hasty or not paying very much attention when I got on. I was living life without purposely seeking God’s plan and giving too little thought or consideration to how my current decisions would affected the eventual outcome. Other times it was more intentional. I just thought I knew better than to get direction or advice from God or seek wisdom from anyone else. Arrogance is often at the root of getting lost.
Whatever the reason, once we have gotten on the wrong path, the train that leads to destruction, we always have a choice. And God always provides a way out, a way off, a way back. And when we make that decision, He always provides the means to get ourselves on the right track. The first few times you may end up riding the train all the way to the end, with consequences and results that can be heartbreaking and devastating and cause us to grieve in our regrets.
But hopefully, over time, we can do what my daughter and I did; we payed attention to the path we were on and immediately got off when we realized we were headed to the wrong part of town. Let’s be honest, we won’t always make great decisions. That’s just the reality of life.
Our self-will and emotions and worldly desires often cloud our judgment. But hope is not lost. If we continue to work towards being spiritually fit by staying connected to a Power greater than ourselves, we can learn to identify when we are getting off-track and jump off the train. When we do this, we can pause, pray and proceed to the proper route.
And I just love that just like God provided two English/Spanish speaking college girls to come to the rescue of some lost and scared English/Spanish Speaking tourists, He will provide exactly what you need to get you to where you need to go. No lecturing. No shaming. No guilt trip. Just kind, gentle guidance. Following His lead and trusting His path as you begin your journey again.