1 To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul,
2 my God, in you I trust;
do not let me be disgraced;
do not let my enemies gloat over me.
3 No one is disgraced who waits for you,
but only those who are treacherous without cause.
4 Make known to me your ways, LORD;
teach me your paths.
5 Guide me by your fidelity and teach me,
for you are my savior,
for you I wait all the day long.
6 Remember your compassion and your mercy, O LORD,
for they are ages old.
7 Remember no more the sins of my youth;
remember me according to your mercy,
because of your goodness, LORD.
8 Good and upright is the LORD,
therefore he shows sinners the way,
9 He guides the humble in righteousness,
and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth
toward those who honor his covenant and decrees.
11 For the sake of your name, LORD,
pardon my guilt, though it is great.
12 Who is the one who fears the LORD?
You show him the way he should choose.
13 He will abide in prosperity,
and his descendants will inherit the land.
14 The counsel of the LORD belongs to those who fear him;
and his covenant instructs them.
15 My eyes are ever upon the LORD,
who frees my feet from the snare.
16 Look upon me, have pity on me,
for I am alone and afflicted.
17 Relieve the troubles of my heart;
bring me out of my distress.
18 Look upon my affliction and suffering;
take away all my sins.
19 See how many are my enemies,
see how fiercely they hate me.
20 Preserve my soul and rescue me;
do not let me be disgraced, for in you I seek refuge.
21 Let integrity and uprightness preserve me;
I wait for you, O LORD.
The Road Less Traveled
It’s no secret in the Heffron family that I was born with an appalling lack of direction—a gene that I, with all due respect, inherited from my mother. Quite the opposite, my father and sister have an uncanny sense of where they are headed: They could find a needle in a haystack. It would be a miracle if Mom and I could find the haystack. Maps, for me, are like antiquated formulas. Driving directions, if not broken down into the simplest forms, are like riddles. Being lost, in the literal sense, has become a sort of pastime for me. Often I find myself, to quote the great Robert Frost, taking “the road less traveled,” but it’s almost always by accident.
When it hits me that I am hopelessly lost, on the road or in my life, I am reminded of a passage in the psalms that has taught me to abandon my fears and sometimes enjoy not knowing where I am going. This bit of biblical wisdom gives me a reason to celebrate being a little off-course.
Guided by Faith
It wasn’t always easy to appreciate the pleasure of being lost. The words of this particular psalm remind me of when, at the age of 5, I wandered from my father in a crowded department sore. Panicked and terrified, I was, in a cruel instant, alone—and scared.
Finding my dad a few minutes later was a relief, but it was in being lost that I really learned something. That’s why I like this long, lovely verse. It isn’t about finding my way. It’s about not knowing where I’m going. It’s about letting go and allowing my faith to guide me.
This isn’t always easy. I rely heavily on what my eyes can show me. Many times I feel 5 years old again—panicked, uneasy, and out of sorts. I have often wandered from grace in life’s great big department store, looking for toys or candy. The phrase “teach me your paths” reminds me that I still have a ways to go in the journey.
“Guide me by your fidelity and teach me” shows that an eagerness to learn the path is normal and perhaps even encouraged, but that I will be no wiser for knowing what lies ahead. The spirit, ever watchful, will not mislead me. Rarely do I know where I’m going in this life and that’s O.K. Ignorance has never been this blissful.
With GPS on smartphones and in cars, however, getting lost is getting harder. Relying on our instincts or guidance from a higher power is becoming obsolete. And that’s a shame. After all, you cannot be found if you haven’t been lost.
On the Road Again
I’ve always loved a good mystery. There’s a sense of adventure in not always knowing what’s in store for me. Life didn’t provide a book of instructions or a handy manual to carry in my pocket. I’ll slip. I’ll fail. And I will begin again with hopeful eyes watching the skies. I know that I will never be alone.
I will travel a great many roads in this beautiful but convoluted life. Without a dependable sense of direction, I know it’s a given that I will be navigating strange towns and unfamiliar streets without a clue as to where I am.
Sooner rather than later, I’ll be driving in my car and realize that I am, once again, lost. With a willing heart, all I can do is ignore the chatter of GPS and say, “God, I hope so.”