I am the proud owner of a flip phone, sort of like the communicator Captain Kirk used in the 1970s iteration of Start Trek. With my phone I can make phone calls and, if I have the time and patience, compose brief text messages. That’s it. My wife, on the other hand, has a phone that can do just about anything. Inside her phone lives a little man named Nigel. We imagine he is Australian. When we are in the car on unfamiliar roads we rely on Nigel to navigate us from point A to point B. As long as I follow Nigel I can be at peace knowing that he knows where point B is and how to get there.
Nigel didn’t make the trip to Martin, Slovakia with me. As I mentioned, he lives in my wife’s phone. So how have I managed to navigate my way around Martin these past two weeks? I have done it by following others who knew where to go. It hasn’t mattered that I have never been to Martin before, and that when I got here I had no idea how to find anything. As long as I knew who to follow it was OK. I didn’t have to stress out about not knowing how to get to the school we were here to serve, or how to find the grocery store when I ran out of toothpaste, or where to get a decent plate of halušky. I just needed to know who to follow. Knowing who to follow makes all the difference.
A couple of years ago my sweet wife was diagnosed with a progressive debilitating illness. Since then her illness has progressed significantly. Many of you know that she very much wanted to come to Martin and participate in the ministry here, but her illness prevented her from doing so. We can think of her diagnosis as point A. But we have no idea where point B is or what getting there might look like. How will our life look five or ten years from now? How quickly and to what degree will my wife’s illness progress? How do we navigate from point A to point B when we don’t know where or what point B is? How can we experience peace in the midst of such uncertainty? We need someone to follow, and Nigel is of no use at all.
Jesus said in John 10:27, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” When we listen to and follow Jesus, we can experience peace even when the point B’s of life are uncertain. My wife is infinitely better at listening and following than I am, but I, too, am getting the hang of it and experiencing the liberating peace that results. Just as I can be at peace about reaching my destination with Nigel navigating my car, I can be at peace with uncertain point B’s with Jesus (God) navigating my life.
During these past couple of weeks in Martin I have experienced the value of knowing who to follow. In my day-to-day life I am beginning to grasp that same idea. There is much about this life that is uncertain. But when we know who to follow, the uncertainties become navigable. Jesus not only knows the way, but he is The Way. Is there a point B in your life that you don’t understand or know how to reach? Rest assured that Jesus knows where it is, how to get there, and what it will look like when you arrive. The path to point B may not be a smooth or easy one, but when we follow Jesus we can experience his abiding peace in the midst of the bumps and challenges. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” Knowing who to follow makes all the difference.