Saturday, March 6, 2010

U.K. 2010 - the Adventure Continues

When I picked up my rental car at London Heathrow they had this whole "hidden charges"thing going on. Bottom line, Enterprise slapped on an additional 13 English pounds per day, effectively adding around $120 to the cost. It's tough to argue effectively when you're standing in the middle of a remote parking lot with a suitcase and no alternative transportation.

So I huffed and strutted and whined; then I took the GPS - "Nav System" to them - and tossed it over the counter before heading out to my ride. "I guess that's one charge you're going to have to remove," I said.

That's the backdrop for the facebook "status update" I posted later in the day: Climbed confidently into my rental car, right in front of the office. Sat still for a moment and then realized the absence of a steering wheel. Slipped out again, looked around, whistled, tried to look cool as I walked around to the correct side of the car....

Dignity seldom survives such instances and this was no exception!

So there I was, without a navigation system, driving to places I'd never been to before, and on roads that looked a lot different when I stopped driving them a lifetime ago. The good news is I always got lost somewhere interesting, and I especially enjoyed the drive to uncle John Salmon's home at Sunbury on Thames.

Southern England is beautiful, as you can see, but the roads go every-which-way and sometimes navigation is a lot like negotiating a maze. Fortunately I had a big book of maps, and then I really don't mind asking for directions when I'm stuck. In fact, had I not been willing to humble myself and ask for some help I never would have made it to uncle John's for dinner.

Redemption for the directionally challenged:
One of the cousins I talked with during the week doesn't need a GPS system to tell her how lost she feels right now. She believes she's stuck in a no-win situation, the result of a series of poor choices, and with no possibility of finding her way out. I wasn't much help in terms of offering easy directions for a slick escape.

But I did tell her this: "God is willing to be with you - lost or not. God isn't going to go away just because you might be on the wrong road... even if it's simply the latest in a series of wrong roads. God's way is about love, not condemnation; and redemption is always an option."

Redemption doesn't necessarily mean we find our way out, handily, unscathed and in time for dinner. What redemption is about is the turning around. Once in a while we have to stop with the floundering and the banging into stuff and the tiresome compounding of wrong choices. Once in a while we need to stop, turn around, take a deep breath, and acknowledge the presence of the God who never actually left us.

We may not make it in time for dinner, and we may miss a couple of uncle John's stories. That's Okay, because once we experience redemption it's not merely about finding the correct way out anymore; instead, the journey becomes about walking with The One who is The Way.

That's the way of the Cross.

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