I MISS USING PAPER MAPS. I don’t miss the frustrations of trying to refold one. But I miss them.
On road trips, my sister and I would use a road atlas as a game. We’d turn in that big book to a state. The object was to find a location on the map that starts with an “A.” The next person must find a “B” and so on. When one could no longer find a town with their “letter,” the game was over.
I liked them because I could see a bigger picture. Not just the route to take from one location to another, I could see the destination in relation to the whole state. I could see the listing of interesting attractions that might be worth a side trip.
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FIFTEEN YEARS AGO, Lisa and I got to visit Scotland. We flew into Edinburgh, rented a car and drove around the country using a paper road map. We took a detour or two to see some of the off-the-main-road attractions. Especially animals.
A couple of days in, we saw on the map the “Arctic Penguin.” Just so happened that the “Arctic Penguin” was in the same town where we were staying overnight. Now we both like penguins. So, when we arrived, we took off on the adventure to see this penguin important enough to warrant a dot on the map.
We walked up and down the streets. Nothing. No zoo. No side show. Nothing.
The map showed it right at the main intersection in that small town. We finally gave up.
We were on the waterfront; it was getting dark. I suggested Lisa stand in front of a boat moored there so I could take a photo. It was then we discovered the Arctic Penguin. Turns out the Arctic Penguin is a historic three-masted schooner moored as a museum.
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MAPS ARE USEFUL to help you find your way. Of course, paper folding maps are harder to come by today.
Now it is GPS in your car or on your phone. Enter where you want to go, and a nice voice tells you step by step how to get there.
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BEFORE JESUS’ LAST MEAL with them; before the arrest; before the crucifixion and death. Before the Resurrection. Jesus tells the disciples he is going away. Jesus tells the disciples he’s going away to prepare a place for them and that they know the way.
He is preparing them for what’s to come but they don’t understand where it is he is going.
Thomas takes Jesus quite literally. Thomas wants step-by-step directions. Thomas wants coordinates. A road map. GPS calling out the turns and road changes that takes him to a physical place where Jesus will be.
Jesus is the GPS. Jesus is “the way, and the truth, and the life.” Follow Jesus. Trust that Jesus is not abandoning them. Jesus is returning to his Father, which is good news for them. Jesus assures Thomas, the others, and all of us that this is also our destination. There are many dwellings in his Father’s house, and he goes to prepare a place, so that we will be with him and dwell with him in his intimate relationship with the Father.
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JESUS TELLS US where we are, where we are going and how to get there.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God. Trust in me… . I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
The Resurrection is the payoff to this promise. Jesus point the way home. He tells us: There are tough times ahead. But do not be afraid. Trust me. Stick with me and I will stick with you. Follow me and I will take you home.
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“HOME” MEANS BEING in the intimate presence of God. “Home” means being at the bosom of the Father. Ascended life means to be with God, with Jesus. Where Jesus is, there we will be.
This is supposed to be good news for us. But we, like Thomas, have questions. What’s all this “going home” stuff about? Our senses tell us that right here, right now is the only home we know. We like it. We have mapped out our own journey. We have entered the coordinates to our own truth, our own life. Why doesn’t Jesus join us instead of going away?