Several years ago a group of friends and I took a road trip to San Antonio, Texas, to see the Alamo. One of the guys on our team offered to navigate for us. “That’s my hometown and I’d love to be your guide,” he said. But once we arrived in San Antonio, things got a little confusing when a few of us noticed we had passed the same store three times.
“Hey, aren’t we going in circles?” someone asked. “No, no, we’re getting close,” my friend assured us.
We found ourselves in a rough part of town—then in a massive traffic jam—then going in circles again. Finally, someone said to my friend, “Hey, I thought you knew your way around. You said this was your hometown.” “It is,” he answered, “but we moved away when I was two.”
Obviously, Michael wasn’t our ideal guide. He had good intentions but no idea where to lead us. He represents the kind of guide we may think we want in life, but one that ends up leading us in circles instead of into the rich and satisfying life Jesus designed for us.
Another kind of guide may have the right information but may be missing other essentials. My wife, Kelly, and I went on a mission trip to the Philippines. On our day off, we took a guided canoe tour. The crew consisted of several small but athletic Filipinos. At one point we came to a place in the river too shallow to float through. “Uh-oh,” I thought, “this must be the end of the line.” To my surprise, our strong young guides lifted up our canoe—with Kelly and me still in it!—and carried it to deeper waters. “Wow,” I thought, “talk about reliable guides!”
Later, we came to a beautiful spot where the river widened, and the leader signaled for us to stop rowing. “Oh, good,” I thought, “now we’re going to hear some rich history. Maybe this is where the country’s democratic leaders planned their revolution.” Visibly excited, our guide pointed and exclaimed, “Here on this spot is where the movie Rambo was made!”
That was a little disappointing. But soon we came to another beautiful spot where the river opened up to a lush, green field. It looked like the kind of place where an historic battle might have taken place. “On this spot,” said the guide, clearing his throat, “Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie had a picnic!”
There are some guides in life who have the knowledge to get us through some troubling dilemmas. But do they also have the knowledge to carry us to the abundant life Jesus promises?
“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10, ESV).