“Hey Hudson, the directions say to start right here with the little boy, and then help him get home.”
“But Mom, it’s easier to go backwards, see?”
With the words barely out of his mouth, six-year-old Hudson completed the maze on his restaurant paper placemat.
“That was EASY…” he said, moving on to the vegetable-laden word search.
Watching my son work on the simple riddles and games made me wonder how often in this maze of life it would simplify things to go backwards instead of forward. How many experiences would be made easier if we could do them with the knowledge of having already arrived at the finish line, only to go in reverse with perfect hindsight? How much more pleasant to move through life’s obstacles with the end in sight, knowing the outcome instead of blindly moving forward day by day?
Unfortunately, life doesn’t work in reverse.
A few years ago, 28 weeks’ pregnant, I received a rare and devastating diagnosis for my unborn daughter. Our physician and perinatal neonatologist warned my husband and me of significant complications and prepared us for the worst. Those remaining months of weekly appointments and screenings would have been a breeze had we known the “end of the maze” – a CT Scan at my daughter’s birth revealed a perfectly formed little brain. But the Lord allowed our family to struggle through the difficult process of facing looming medical probabilities. And even with the surprising gift of a healthy baby girl, I gained a sensitivity for others trudging through similar experiences.
Last week a little boy at our elementary school lost his daddy. Monday morning the family rose to get ready for school and work, and the father simply didn’t wake up. A heart attack had taken him during the night, and the three children and their mommy are facing the incredible shock and reality of their father’s and husband’s absence. Who knows how their story will unfold, but there is certainly no “finish line” for them to glance back from. They must put one foot in front of the other and plunge forward into an unknown maze, no doubt hitting walls and dead ends along the way.
In ancient days, the Lord guided Moses and the Hebrew people through the desert one day at a time. He provided just enough manna for each day. No obvious signs of hope on the horizon, but simply His presence in the form of a cloud to guide them. This pattern is repeated through Scripture: faith built up not in the seen but in the unseen.
On the eve of his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus told his disciples that he was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. He asked his Father to “take this cup from me,” but then continued, “but not my will, Father, but Thy will be done.” I imagine Jesus knew the outcome. Fully human and fully God, somehow he knew this was the WAY, but he still asked for deliverance from the impending crucifixion. Yet God allowed Jesus’s suffering for the good of His plan, His designed path of love and forgiveness. Even though he endured a horrific death, Jesus would not revoke his death on the cross for us. He willingly gave his life, and just as remarkably, God the Father allowed him to give it. Then in marvelous triumph, Jesus rose from the dead and freed all of humanity from the bonds of sin and death. Remarkable.
The view from the end looks good. Finished. Complete. Yet even as Christ peered into that experience from the front end of the maze, he felt scared and overwhelmed, to the point of asking (twice!) for deliverance. Moses felt fearful meandering through the desert for forty years with a following of ungrateful Isrealites. This newly widowed mom and her children in our neighborhood surely feel terrified and distraught. And on a smaller scale, I spent three months wrestling with anxiety before my daughter’s birth.
We all find ourselves peering into the openings of daunting, confusing mazes at times, nothing certain ahead aside from God’s unchanging character and love. Can we trust our Creator with His design of the mazes in our life? Trust Him to be present for guidance, to provide daily provisions, and to love us as we follow dead-end paths, only to turn back and try another way?
Lord, you are the perfect Creator with perfect wisdom. Thank you that we can trust you for daily guidance and strength to put one foot in front of the other.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2

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