This past weekend Jonathan revealed that he could read a map. Unbeknownst to me, Dad had recently taught him this skill and as we began our hike, Jonathan nonchalantly displayed his new-found ability. He stopped at the trailhead and picked up a paper map, folded it, and stuck it in his pocket. From time to time, he would stop at a trail crossing or a point of interest and pull out his map to show me where we were on the map and then point to where we were going.
I found this map experience a poignant reminder of how Jonathan navigates his life. After all, maps help us identify where we are presently, and then, show us which path we should take to get where we want to go. Most of us have a pretty good sense of where we are, but getting where we want to go is another matter. We plan, we hope, and sometimes we pray that the path we embark on will be a solid path that leads to a good outcome.
Jonathan knows where he is presently. In fact, he emphatically defends his present coordinates. He is quick to point out–this is my home, my family, my brothers, my sister, my mom, and my dad. He also identifies: my church, my barn, my office, and my Starbucks.
Jonathan also has his constants–what he does the same everyday and every week, what day-programs and activities he participates in, and when he’s going to be home to hang out, work in his office, or watch Sponge Bob Square Pants.
These are his locators. They help him know where he presently is in life and where he belongs. From this location on his map, he plans, he dreams, and he hopes about where he wants to go.
One day he plans to build a big church. He’s even drawn up sketches for expanding the barn for that purpose. He also dreams about having a sports complex where families and friends can play. He wants it to have a gym and outdoor sports fields, scoreboards, parking lots, big lights, and a sign at the entrance with his name on it.
Some day soon, he hopes our church will outgrow its present building. He has picked out a larger one that he thinks we should purchase. Almost weekly, he asks me to drive him over to the building which has a big “For Sale” sign in front. I drop him off by the front door and then wait in the car as he walks around the building praying. Initially, I can hear him say, “Jesus, hope, pray.” Then I watch as he begins his march. He stops periodically to place his hands on the building and to pray. I can read his lips as he repeats those words, “Jesus, hope, pray.”
Jonathan knows where he is today. He knows where he plans, dreams, and hopes to go. I’ll be watching to see what path he’ll take to get there.