It first happened (or so it seemed) this past Saturday in Ann Arbor. In fact, it happened twice – once when I parked and again when we were looking for the car. Someday someone else may tell you how a friend, the police, and family members saved me.
It then happened again the following morning as I drove to church. The fog was the thickest I have experienced in years. This time, however, I upped my focus and concentration mid-trip, and no rescue was needed.
It was as I was on my morning walk the following day that I remembered a similar scene the week prior. I was jogging as a part of my early morning routine when suddenly I found myself on a wrong street. It was a few blocks later when I finally figured out where I was – and this was the very neighborhood in which we have lived for over 6 years! I had been so caught up in meditation and prayer that I didn’t notice making a wrong turn … which I almost made again on that Monday morning when I suddenly caught myself.
Unfortunately, I think it happens to all of us more than we care to admit. The word is “disoriented,” and I am not just talking about the little incidents listed above. I am talking about the fact that “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself”. (Philippians 3.20-21)
It will be easy for many of us to become disoriented this coming Tuesday. Yes, it is important to vote … and to vote one’s conscience. Yes, I care about the laws and leaders of our land. However, it is always important to remember that in the voting booth we are functioning in God’s left-hand kingdom … which is about temporal powers … and the Law.
The right-handed Kingdom of God is his kingdom of grace … his rule in the hearts of individuals through the Gospel of Jesus Christ … the one “who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself”. (Philippians 3.20-21) This kingdom is never-ending. And “of the increase of this government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” (Isaiah 9.7)
Some people are “so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.” Others are “so earthly minded that they are no heavenly good.” I would suggest that the problem of both is that they are disoriented. They have lost their sense of direction. On the one hand, if one loses sight of their destination, they end up simply walking in circles … like me in that Ann Arbor neighborhood. On the other hand, if one pretends to be at their destination and ignores the journey, they will never get there … like a car stalled on the side of the freeway.
The location of our polling site was changed a couple years ago. The second time we were to vote at the new site, I started driving to the old location. Fortunately, I caught myself mid-trip and was able to vote. The disorientation only cost me a few minutes. However, if I had waited until the last minute to drive to the polls … and had not discovered I was disoriented on my own … the consequences could have been much worse.
And then I consider the consequences if one gets disoriented in their “kingdom of the right hand” journey? One might start saying, “Any path will get me there.” Another might say, “It’s the journey that counts. There is no destination.” There is always one who says, “I will get started on the journey later. I have other priorities now.” And another might get so caught up in the sights that they are not thinking at all about the journey or the destination … and I think we all know the dangers of distracted driving.
I have been rescued many times from multiple different forms of disorientation. The greatest rescue, however, was when the cross of Calvary was connected to me in my baptism. Now I have been “buried with (Jesus) by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, I too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6.4) Since this (walking in the newness of life) is the journey we are on, our daily prayer can simply be the words of an 18th century hymn. “Jesus lead thou on till our rest is won. Heavenly leader, still direct us, still support, console protect us, till we safely stand in our fatherland.” (LSB 718) With a daily prayer like this, we are sure to reach our destination, no matter how many times and ways we become disoriented.