Journeys and Guidebooks
May 19, 2006
Original Post Date: 5/19/2006
Have you ever been on a trip with someone who insists on following every direction of their handy-dandy guidebook? Tracing every step with precision so as to try and recreate the author's experience to the "t", afraid they might miss something if they don't?
Or have you been on a trip where you didn't have a guidebook at all, sure that your destination had something exciting in store, but not really sure where to find it?
I've done both. My experience with the former is exhausting. I can spend a lot of energy chasing tour buses, following walking tours, and keeping my nose buried in my guidebook to the point where I don't actually experience the vacation. I'm more busy trying to follow the "rulebook" then using it as a guidebook. The other downside is there is invevitably always an attraction, restaurant, or shop that is gone for some reason or another– no matter how current my guidebook is. It can be frustrating to go on a walking tour, make a left turn into what is supposed to be a garden and find a construction crew instead.
Wondering aimlessly doesn't work for me either. While I might happen upon something that will occupy a few moments, the time seems to pass without much of interest happening. I look back on the vacation and think "Was that really a whole week? What did I do?" I need some structure to help me along.
I have found a middle ground when I travel. I like to read the guidebook to become familiar with what others have found interesting, use that information to apply it to how my particular journey will go, and be flexible as the vacation unfolds. In this way, I often stumble across many unplanned adventures that add a lot of texture and character to my vacations that aren't found in the guidebooks. It is a great way to travel.
I think the same can be said of the Bible. We can't use the Bible as a rulebook, to be read literally, to be used to try and recreate the experiences of the authors, to apply rigidly to our lives today. Nor can we discard the Bible and try and wonder aimlessly around in our lives. There is a middle ground, where we use the Bible as a starting point for our journey, keeping our lives open and flexible so that new and wonderful experiences can unfold before us, allowing us to interact with God and each other in exciting new ways.