The easiest time to have faith is when life is going as we would like it to go when everyone is healthy, happy, and we are successful. This is when we feel the graces of God the strongest. The hardest time to have faith is when everything is going wrong and life is just one challenge after another. So, how do we place our trust, our hearts into the hands of God when we are troubled? When we are feeling the most alone in life? These are questions we all ask and ponder at some point in life. We all wonder about the direction God is leading us and his goodness and presence in those times that just don’t make sense to us.
Years ago, when I was still in school in Boston, my friends and I decided to go to a church in the Cambridge area of Boston and on our way back to the dorm we got terribly lost. Now if you have ever been in Boston, you will know that the streets are not laid out in nice neat blocks like other cities. Many roads were dead ends and one way. This was before smart phones and Google maps. We had no maps in the car. So we called a friend of ours, Carl, on campus who pulled out a large road map and found us on the map. He then tried to direct us out of the maze.
But every time he said “Turn right”. Our driver turned left getting us further and further lost. After about 45 minutes of this everyone in the car wondered whether we would ever get home, and many of us had serious questions about the abilities of the friend who was driving. Eventually, we pulled over and fired her from her job as driver. It felt like we would never see the dorm again. Some of the areas we drove through were not safe. And we were definitely scared. In those moments, it was hard to place our trust in God and impossible to place our trust in the individual who struggled with her lefts and rights.
Sometimes in faith, we will not have those road maps. We do not have GPS or smart phones, or Google maps to help navigate us through life. It would be nice if we did. At times, it can feel like every direction we get we seem to turn the opposite way and feel even more lost as the moments go by. But we are called to place our faith in God and to trust in God for our next move. We don’t need special apps, devices, or even large paper maps to show us the way through life’s most troublesome times. God is our GPS, our road map, our special program. Thomas Merton, a 20th century theologian, wrote, “I was not sure where I was going, and I could not see what I would do when I got there. But you saw further and clearer than I, and you opened the seas before my ship, whose track led me across the waters to a place I had never dreamed of, and which you were even then preparing to be my rescue and my shelter and my home”.
The best GPS, road map, and guidance we could seek in life comes directly from God. This is what we see in our reading from Acts this morning that Jonathan shared with you. Here the ascension had already happened. The disciples were left without Jesus in their presence. They were left without their source of strength and inspiration who had given them such clear direction in their lives and ministry for so long. Now Jesus was gone, and they were short a disciple to make that transition to apostleship. Judas had betrayed Christ and had died. But who from the 70 would they choose to take on such an important role? Who had enough teaching and education at the feet of Christ? Who would Christ have chosen?
Instead of relying only on their own thoughts on the subject, and instead of just giving up and going with just 11 apostles, Peter turned to Christ in prayer. He asked for guidance in the decision making. And he received the guidance he asked for. Our scriptures give us the example of what is expected of us in difficult times in life, what is expected of us when we don’t know what to do. Acts says, “And they prayed and said, ‘Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show which one of these two thou hast chosen to take the place in ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside”. We are asked to seek God’s guidance when we are torn as to what to do and where to go next. We are asked to trust in God’s leadership when times are tough.
When we are feeling lost and vulnerable then we are to look towards God first in prayer and then to listen in confidence that he will reveal to us in time the direction we are to go. God can be our map to life. God will give us directions and light our way if we only seek him out, if we allow him to be our guide, our Sherpa, in life. When we rely only on ourselves we don’t see the whole picture, we get lost in the anxiety that can cause us to forget our left from right. When we rely on God, the path may not be easy all the time, but we can trust that he walks this life with us and brings where we need to be.
The hardest thing we can do in those foggy times of life is to step back and look to God and wait for his answers. But this is our challenge. This week, when you leave here to celebrate mother’s day, invite your mother to come with, invite your children to join you outside in the world around and ask for God to reveal himself to you and notice how he reminds you that he is present. And remember that presence and use it as the impetus to continue seeking God’s guiding hand in all aspects of life. Remember the words of the Psalmist, “Blessed is the man … [who] delights in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night”.
 Thomas Merton, Seven Storey Mountain, 20th century.
 Acts 1: 24, RSV.
 Psalm 1: 1 and 2, RSV.
(Based on Psalm 1 and Acts 1: 15-17, 21-26)