Give Me a Map, Not an App!



Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. . . . The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. Psalm 119: 105, 130 (NIV)

We weren’t lost. We just couldn’t find our destination.

It wasn’t like we hadn’t been there before. Of course, “before” was close to 25 years ago. And “there” was the Kinzua Bridge, which was once the tallest railroad bridge in the world—until July 2003, when an F1 tornado came roaring through the valley. What was left of the bridge has been transformed into a skywalk, which I wanted to see.

So on our Labor Day weekend camping trip to the Allegheny National Forest, my husband and I planned two day trips—one to the Kinzua Dam and the other to the Kinzua Bridge Skywalk.

We had no problems on Saturday, but Sunday was another story.

We set out, armed with a road atlas, a map of the area, the Google map app on my cellphone, and Dean’s handheld GPS.

And we still got lost.

Well, not lost, but we kept getting turned around. Over and over and over again.

It wasn’t like we hadn’t navigated miles and miles and miles of unknown territory over the many road trips we’ve taken. But this time, it seemed we were driving in a big circle around the area of bridge but somehow couldn’t find the road to the bridge.

We even followed the road signs—you know the brown ones with the name of the state park, an arrow to indicate which way to go, and the number of miles?

Crazy, but Dean thought it was the signs that got us turned around. Because each time we took the turn the sign indicated to Kinzua Bridge State Park, we drove farther away from it, according to the Google Map app.

But then maybe the Google Map app, which depends on a strong satellite signal, wasn’t as accurate as it should have been. The satellite radio station we listen to kept cutting in and out, indicating a temporary loss of signal, which is often the case when traveling through the mountains. Same with the cellphone signal.

We’ve rarely gotten so confused—so turned around—that I, navigator and map reader extraordinaire, became so flummoxed I tossed my hands up in frustration.

“I give up!” I snapped, shutting off the Google Map app.

Which is probably what I should have done in the first place—or not even turned it on. Now that I look back—isn’t hindsight always better than foresight?—I never should have tried to use it at all, with the spotty signal and all. I should have chosen one thing to guide us—my trusty road atlas. It has never let me down.

We never did get to Kinzua Bridge. We’d planned on visiting a couple we know who were camping near Coudersport after we’d gone to the bridge. When I finally figured out where we were, I told Dean, “We might as well forget the bridge and go visit Mark and Anna. We’re already halfway there.”

The same is true in on the journey of life, isn’t it? We often get turned around and lose our way when we use too many guidebooks or apps. One says one thing, another says another. Which one is correct? Which one is accurate?

Give me a map, not an app. And only one—the map of God’s Word—will lead me through the confusion, chaos, and jumble of roads life can become. It’s clear, unchanging, unfailing, steadfast, and authored by the One who created me and the world I’m traveling through.

And, like my trusty atlas, it never has let me down.

What are you using?

Thank you, Father, for giving me Your Word and Your Holy Spirit to guide me through life. Amen.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on Psalm 119 (Since this is a long portion of Scripture, you may want to break up the reading into daily sections of 25 verses.)


Storm Warning


God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. – Psalm 46:1 (NIV)

As I write this, Hurricane Hermine, now downgraded to a tropical storm, is wreaking havoc across the Southeast, threatening beachgoers who’d hoped to spend the holiday weekend that officially marks the end of summer enjoying the sand and surf. High winds, torrential rains, and flooding, as well as power outages, are impacting not only the Eastern Seaboard, but also farther inland.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Lester threatens Hawaii.

Here in Western Pennsylvania, though, a pleasant weekend with plenty of sunshine and warmth (minus the heat and humidity) is forecast. Hurricanes that travel up the East Coast usually don’t affect us, although there have been times they have, mostly with rain and flooding. Those times, however, are few and far between. Thank heaven.

But we’ve had our share of thunderstorms this summer. The abundance of rain has all but ruined our garden. And then there are the winter storms, which probably make up for the lack of hurricanes.

And we sure get our share of personal storms, don’t we?

None of us want to endure storms that arrive, often unheralded, on our horizons. Storms of illness, accident, financial setback, relationship problems, a rebellious child, a loved one’s death. Storms that arrive and stay around awhile, siphoning our strength and battering our spirits.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live a life in which we suffered no pain, no grief, no sorrow? We’d never cry, never have our hearts broken, never hurt, never be disappointed, discouraged, or depressed. There’d be no need for medicine to numb our physical and emotional pain.

But, as a wise friend once told me, “You won’t have heaven until you get there.”

Storms are a part of life. “The years of our life are threescore and ten (70), or even by reason of strength, fourscore (80); yet their span is but toil and trouble” (Psalm 90:10).

While you can’t escape the storms, you can, like the residents of the Southeast, prepare for them. How?

First, by knowing that you are not alone. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

Second, by knowing that God hears your cries for help and answers. “But I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice” (Psalm 55:16–17).

Third, by knowing that, if you truly love God and are doing your best to follow Him and do what He wants you to do, everything – even the bad times – will work for your good. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28, emphasis mine).

Fourth, by knowing that with God, you can overcome anything. “If God be for us, who can ever be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

And finally, by knowing that God loves you and nothing can separate you from that love. “I am convinced that nothing can separate us from His love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38–39).

When hurricanes appear on my life’s horizon, Lord, remind me that You are in the midst of the storm. Amen.

Read and meditate on Psalm 46