I had my directions written on a folded scrap of lined paper. Four rows of departure times, stop locations and route numbers scribbled in pen. I couldn’t help but check the directions again, as if I had already forgotten which bus I needed next. The transfer center was mostly quiet compared to my first two stops. Not as many people walked by here, and only two men waited with me at transfer zone H. Even the buses seemed like soft-spoken metal dinosaurs, as I hardly noticed their gentle rumblings.
I had made it through half of the directions without trouble, with two buses down on a three-hour trip to see friends. I read The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis along the way, a fictional book about a bus ride from Hell to Heaven. My trip could not be compared to leaving Hell to see Heaven, but I still enjoyed the idea of reading about a bus while riding buses. I finished the small book by the time I returned home, and it is recommendation worthy whether you travel by public transit or not.
My second bus arrived about 20 minutes before my next scheduled departure. As I waited to cross the street from zone J to zone H, I idly noticed the bus P2 S 19th/Bridgeport – Lakewood via TCC passing by. When I came to the zone H sign, I pulled out my directions to compare with the route numbers. I stared at the sign long enough for a man nearby to ask which one I wanted. None of the routes on the sign seemed to match my scribbled directions. I needed P2 S 19th/Bridgeport – Lakewood via TCC, the same bus I saw leave 20 minutes before the time I had written.
Doubt did not need any greater invitation. Maybe my directions were wrong. I was supposed to be two buses and an hour away from my friends in another city, and now I wondered if I would have to ask those friends to pick me up in the transfer center. I would be stranded until they could find me.
A bus stopped and opened its doors. The driver stared at me as I checked my directions again and told him the bus wasn’t my route. I decided to wait on a bench and listen to my mp3, remembering my sister’s warning earlier that morning to not talk to strangers. If someone comes up to you on the street, just ignore them, she said. I thought that seemed rather unkind to other people and a way to miss opportunities to serve God. But then, as I willed for my bus to arrive, I suddenly felt afraid of someone stopping to talk to me. Alone in an unfamiliar city, I felt vulnerable. A man walked by and told me to smile. I pulled some sort of grimace, and he continued walking, saying, “There you go. There you go.”
I checked the time. My bus was still not due for another five minutes. I wondered about the possibility that the routes or times had changed without being updated on the online trip planner I had used. Maybe the directions would have been right a few months ago but were useless after some transit rescheduling. Despite the nagging doubts, I resolved to wait until my departure time. If the bus didn’t arrive, what would I have lost in waiting? I would call my friends and make a new plan.
On the exact minute in my directions, P2 S 19th/Bridgeport – Lakewood via TCC coasted into zone H. I jumped up from my seat and rushed to the bus, anxious to not be left while also relieved my directions had been right. As I boarded, I realized my doubts had come from unfounded fear. I never needed to worry.
Metaphors jump out at me from everyday moments, and this one was no different. Just as I doubted whether I had the right directions and if I could get where I wanted to go, I also needlessly doubt God’s directions for my life. I often wonder if I heard him correctly or if I will like where he takes me. Many Christians I know have the same fears. They ask about God’s will and how they can be sure. They doubt the bus they need is coming.
But God will not leave us stranded. We only need to trust his wisdom and guidance, and he will drive us to the destination that is better than any place we would have chosen on our own. Why should we worry? He has given us our directions.