Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Maze

A good fifteen or more years ago, there was a Family Fun Center a few miles away from my home. For me, its chief attraction was a complex maze that covered at least an acre, made of tall wooden walls that created corridors about four feet wide. The adventurer bought a ticket for $4.00 and was given a card with eight spaces on it. The spaces were to be filled with stamps that would be found at specific locations inside the bewildering turns of the maze. The goal was to enter the maze, find the eight stamps, and then locate the exit. There were time stamps at the entrance and the exit. The design of the maze was changed each month.

I was a regular patron. Over time I found that one could divide the denizens of the maze into three general categories: there was the guy who strode by me, his face livid, screaming, “I paid money to get ripped off!” There was a girl who strolled through, her eyes wandering around, murmuring, “I don’t know where I am, but this is fun.”

And there was me. I learned early on to bring in a clipboard with graph paper. I charted each passage so that I would not wander aimlessly, but could gradually create a map of the maze. Even if I didn’t know the way through, I knew where I was at all times so that I would not keep looking in the same place but was continually finding new corridors and could narrow the search so that I could find the eight stamps and then the exit.

Laughably, I noted that whether I wandered about by chance or graphed the maze, it took me about an hour to finish the game.

Once it occurred to me that the three attitudes toward traveling the maze were similar to people’s attitudes toward life. Wandering about aimlessly with either utter frustration and feeling cheated or having fun; and exercising a measure of control with a plan. I realized that life always has a lot of twists and turns and that we rarely can see very far ahead, but there are always blessings to be found. Sometimes we find those blessings by apparent chance and other times by a little planning for them, but they are always in there somewhere.

In 1984, a really ghastly but highly entertaining movie came out that later became a cult classic: “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension”. I saw it when it first hit the theaters, and remember laughing out loud at the immortal line that concluded a long address of purported wisdom by the heroic lead character, “So remember! —wherever you go, there you are!” A ridiculous bit of advice that is nonetheless subtle and profound. The Christian believer can extend it a bit to conclude that in all circumstances we must entrust all things to the hands and heart of God. Our efforts and our attitudes can have a lot of effect about what happens to us, but ultimately we simply must depend upon God.

Whether it’s personal trials, national crises, international unrest and uncertainty, apparent powerlessness in the face of the revisionist avalanche in the Church, we’ll get through. “With God nothing is impossible.” “Jesus is Lord.”

Sadly, the Family Fun Center with its maze was demolished several years ago. The Kingdom of God will never be demolished.


Joi said...

I think, in the "Maze of Life," I'd be the person happily sitting in a corner, watching how the sunlight plays on the grass and not really going anywhere. Oh well. :)

Matthew said...

Personally, I'd be the guy wandering with a semi-purpose, trying to find the way but not really sure which is the right turn. And then God drops a map out of the sky every now and then...

So, Joi, is your technique a good thing, or a bad thing?

Joi said...

Not a clue! I don't seem to get much of anywhere, but then, I end up seeing a lot of things other people don't. Only time and God will tell whether that's a good thing.