Map Out of Madness

Map

One of my biggest Pet Peeve’s is getting/being lost. Literally, I have to use a GPS to go anywhere. I mean even if I’ve been there dozens of times, I still plug my destination into my phone every single time. My kids often make fun of me about it but I’ve always been directionally challenged, I’ve always been this way. The kids will usually chime in from the back seat, “Dad are you sure we’re going the right way.” Ha ha, you’re hilarious kids.

For example, if someone is explaining to me how to get somewhere and says something like “Go west for about 5 miles etc” I immediately begin to freak out internally. I don’t know where West is..unless a sign tells me or a GPS specifically tells me where to turn, I am lost.

We didn’t always have GPS. I can remember back when I was in my 1st band. We travelled around in an old, worn out Ford van pulling a uhaul trailer full of gear. To get to any destination we had to consult a well used and tattered Atlas that we kept in the floor of the van. This usually required some forethought and planning before our trip. We had to map out our trip and destination BEFORE we headed out.

I remember in those days we would have to often stop and ask directions, it was just part of the trip. We’d pop into a convenient store get some Fritos and a coke and ask specific directions to whatever venue we were playing. The Atlas got us most of the way there but many times it just got us close and we had to rely on people who had been to the venue before to fill us in on EXACTLY where it was.

It wasn’t hard to get lost back then. If we read the map wrong we could potentially go for miles and miles in the opposite direction of our destination, just one wrong turn and we could be lost for hours. This used to drive me crazy, especially when were exhausted after a long day of traveling, then a show later on that night and were attempting to head home. I just wanted to get home and crash in my bed but often times it did not happen as we planned. Ah the good old Rock and Roll lifestyle wasn’t as glamorous as I thought.

This got me thinking about something God has been showing me lately. Many times in my journey of life I have taken some small Wrong turns that would land me somewhere completely different than I intended. I was listening to a podcast of a guy named Andy Stanley who said it best when he said “Direction always determines Destination.” Direction, not intention determines destination!

For much of my life this has been the story. I’ve had lots and lots of good intentions but somehow always landed somewhere I didn’t really want to be. For example, I never sat down and said “I want to be an alcoholic one day.” No way, nobody ever thinks things like this. My intention was just to have a drink and “knock the edge off.” My direction, however said something completely different.”

In fact I would go so far as to say my “good intentions“ most often would get me lost. I always INTEND to do something good but often times these intentions lead me to a place of inaction which in turn DO NOT lead me to a destination where I want to be. For example I may have intended to go to Atlanta to play a show but if my direction was toward St. Louis, well, obviously unless I redirected the van I wouldn’t ever make it to Atlanta.

See, getting lost is never intentional I don’t think. Nobody in their right mind says, I’ve got some extra hours, I wasn’t doing anything anyways, I have so much money, let me just waste some of it. Nope, we would never do that..unless we are insane. Often times it’s just that we start out heading in the wrong direction. Have you ever been there?

I was recently thinking about all this and for some reason the story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden came to my mind. Adam and Eve are in the perfect place and have a perfect connection to God, they received specific direction about what to eat and what not to eat. Their GPS was on and they were headed in the right direction and were even told how NOT to get lost.

They got distracted and they lost their direction and wound up some place completely different than they intended to. There was the voice of someone who said he knew a shortcut or a better way to get there, despite what the map said. As the story goes they took the DETOUR and wound up lost and afraid. This is where the story gets interesting to me.

God was wandering the Garden as he always did and was set to meet with them as usual. But Adam and Eve weren’t where they were supposed to be, they had taken a detour and gotten lost. They certainly didn’t intend to end up separated from God but because they went in the wrong direction they just ended up that way.

God then asks the question of Adam, “Where are you?” Now, what I’ve learned over the years is that God never asks the question for his benefit. He already knows the answer. He asked Adam the question so he could help him see that he was lost. Adam basically says “we knew we were lost God so we hid from you.”

Has this ever happened to you? I know it has for me. I can most readily relate this experience to my recovery. I know I write a lot about drugs, drinking and recovery but it’s what I know the most about so I’m just sticking to what I know.

When I got into recovery there were lots of people in the rooms of AA/NA/Celebrate Recovery that all basically said the same things. They were the voices of the people who had been lost and were now back on track. Many had been “on the right track” for many years. When I got into recovery that seemed unfathomable to me because I was SO very lost.

To quote Russell Brand’s latest book, they gave me a “Map Out of The Madness.” These “old timers” as they were so often called said things like “go to meetings, get a sponsor, work the steps” they said these things OVER and OVER again. Interestingly enough when I wasn’t actively doing those suggestions I always went into hiding, like Adam. I was so ashamed that the shame would keep me out of the meetings. Talk about a detour, geez. Then I would get a call from a sponsor and they would say “Where Are you?”

What did they mean? They knew I wasn’t at meetings, they knew I wasn’t calling my sponsor or working the steps. So, I feel like they asked me that question for my own benefit, so I could see where I was. I was lost but the good news is I had a map AND a GPS with all their experience, strength and hope.

You see it was always my intention to do all these things that were suggested to get back on track but often times they were just intentions with no action. I’ve learned that I can “intend” to go to meetings all day long but unless I go sit my butt in a chair IN a meeting it will do me no good. I think that’s a large part of why I’ve had such a bumpy ride in recovery. I’m like a guy with a map but I think to myself, “no I know a shortcut, I’m not really that into maps.”

In the south we have a little saying “I fixin’ to.” Meaning we intended to take action very soon. I might say “I’m fixin’ to lose 10 lbs but instead I didn’t take any action and I put on 10lbs. How does this happen? One Twinkie, one compromise at a time. That’s how it always happens. We never get lost overnight. It always happens when when our direction is off, sometimes it seems just by a little bit.

Direction is what determines destination. If I want to get somewhere I have to move beyond my intentions into action. In many respects I’m on the “right road” now because I’ve consulted with the map and I’m headed in the right direction. However, at any point now I could choose to ignore the map and take a shortcut but that’s never worked out really well for me. So as I close I’ll leave you with the question that I have to ask myself all day, everyday. “Where are you?” And “is this the direction that will lead you to your destination?”

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