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Unfamiliar places

I love road trips, I generally enjoy driving around in areas that is not in my neighborhood… I will very seldom say no if you ask me to drive somewhere outside of my daily routine of driving.

I agreed to help a friend to collect a shipment expected from China a few months back in Durban (around 600km from home), the arrival of this shipment was delayed by almost 2 months. The goods were finally cleared the first week of January, and the delayed trip of 1200km that eventually became unplanned, was planned for the second week in January. Drive down, collect, sleep over, drive back… it would easily be done under 24 hours if it was not for the Covid curfew.

The way there is literally one road, on the N3 freeway, straight into Durban, a very familiar road. It became unfamiliar as soon as I arrived in Durban. The clearing agent didn’t send me all the required documents, so I had to find a place that would print it for me, in my neighborhood I can pinpoint you to a shop and even tell you the owner’s name. But Google maps knows where to go… It directed me to the center of Durban city, with no parking, and 1000’s of pedestrians, the unfamiliarity made me feel uncomfortable and I took the freeway far away from the city to find somewhere else to print, but Google wanted me to return to the same place… “I REFUSED!” Very clever of me, trying to manipulate the system and drive 20km out of the city, hoping it would give me other suggestions, but obviously the Durbanites don’t feed their business directories correctly, and no new suggestions came up. I walked into a vinyl printing factory with flattery eyes, and they agreed to print 2 pages at a hefty price, I could easily buy a printer for that price.

I then had to head to the collection point, I entered the business name into Google and very quick and easy it led me to their offices, center of Durban, again. Here I ended up arguing with the receptionist because all the “contact” names I gave her weren’t on their directory. 30 minutes later it was gathered that I was at their Head office, and their storage warehouse was literally 3km from where I printed the documents. Back I went.
The shipment was cleared quickly, again by flattery eyes, and was on my way to the booked AirBnB accommodation. Google maps only recognized the postal code from the link on the AirBnB app, I only realized this after being lost for almost an hour, in a very dodgy neighborhood, but eventually found my way to somewhere to sleep.
The next morning I went to fill up my car with fuel, I asked the attendant for the quickest way to the N3 freeway, because of Ms. Google’s wrong directions the last 2 days. One thing I don’t understand with people giving directions is the “Go straight until you see a big red house with a blue roof, when you see it, go straight. You will then see a shopping mall on the left hand side, drive past it.” These type of direction make me focus on a red house and a shopping mall that served no purpose at all, and I totally forgot where I had to turn. So I asked Ms. Google again. The directions seemed correct as I looked at the steps coming up, but because I was focusing on the third step on the directions to ensure it said N3, I drove past the first step, it happened twice. After a long turn I got to the N3, which leads straight into familiar territory; cruise control on, let’s go.

This all made me think of our spiritual journeys, the journey to wholeness and completeness that is found in Christ Jesus. We often get to unfamiliar places, areas that make us uncomfortable and have us wanting to run back to comfort. This comfort is not always good for us. It might have been a unplanned short term escape to help us cope with the emotional lack at some point in time, but then this escape very easily becomes bondage, addiction, abuse etc., entangling us in a web of lies from the enemy, a lie that try and make us believe that we need this “escape” to survive and cope. God then leads us into uncomfortable and unfamiliar territories to get us to realize we are on a self-destruction path, that will lead to death if correction don’t take place. We often don’t recognize the much needed process required to be released, and if we do realize that change is needed, we don’t persistently go through the full process of healing because we want the detail of the steps before we embark on the journey. We then often run back to the familiar, short lived satisfaction.

The most well known example of this in the bible is when Israel was led out of Egypt. God led them out of bondage, and ensured liberty, but they did not know the detail to this freedom ahead of time. They were uncomfortable and were complaining all the way. God closed the Red sea behind them, not only to keep them protected from Egyptian attacks, but also to avoid them from running back to the “comfortable bondage” which became their normal in the 400 years in Egypt. God removed them from Egypt, but it took 40 years of unfamiliar wandering to remove the Egyptian culture from them, to such an extent that God had to wait for the last of the “Egyptian generation” to be absent so that the new generation could occupy and enjoy the Promised land without memories and cravings of the “comfortable bondage.” found in Egypt.

Unfamiliar places requires persistent and patient discipline. It requires contentment with the process. It requires a close relationship with the Holy Spirit, to guide us to “water points” to be refreshed by His comforting motivation to carry on.

Jesus said He will send the Holy Spirit, the Comforter (John 14:15-18). Reading between the lines of this, why will we need a comforter, why would Jesus give us the Comforter if it will always be comfortable? No, Jesus very well knew it will get uncomfortable at times, and in these times we will have the comforter with us, to cheer us on, to motivate us, to feed our thirst.

Embrace the unfamiliar, it is leading to your Promised Land, get content with the cleansing process, it is painful at times, but the Holy Spirit will lessen your thirst along the way. DO NOT run back to bondage, what’s behind the hill is so much better compared to where you are coming from.


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