(This blog speaks on the piece, "Maps," available to watch below.)
I wrote “Maps” on my knees, crying before the Lord, in the middle of my first “tour” as a solo artist.
I hesitate in calling it a tour because that sounds way more extravagant than it actually was. It was Summer of 2011—earlier that year I had turned down stable jobs, left relationships that meant a great deal to me, and was throwing a wrench into my life's plans as I packed up my bags and crossed state lines in pursuit of preaching the Gospel through spoken word. What was this girl thinking? Who knew. I had close to no idea what I was doing or what it would turn into. I lived out of a suitcase—literally. I had no place to call home. I was going from booking to booking, city to city, state to state, just barely making ends meet. “Tour” seems to imply that it was a temporary journey, an expedition to various places that would eventually come to an end. That is not what this was. I had burnt all my bridges. I had nowhere else to go. I was far more of a starving, nomadic missionary than a touring artist. I had bookings for the next few weeks, with no idea if I was going to keep getting jobs for the rest of the year or if I was going to be homeless. I so badly wanted to go where God wanted me to go, to be where He desired me to be. But all alone, in a new city and state, in the guest room of a pastor’s family that I didn’t know, whose church had hired me for the weekend, I thought, “Am I in the right place? Where am I supposed to be?”
I am not alone.
We’ve all been there. Juniors in high school and college, desperate to pick the perfect school or pick the right job. Singles in their mid-twenties, longing to find “the one.” Anyone & everyone thinking of switching careers or relocating a family. We’ve all been at this place, a place of internal desperation & seeking, or quite literally on our knees, begging God to reveal to us His cosmic preferences.
For me, it was here, on my knees on the side of a bed, in my early 20’s, hoping that I was in the exact physical location God wanted me to be.
Turns out, there is far less in the Bible on God being specific in His preferred destinations & plans for us, and far more of an emphasis on where He wants our hearts to be. He doesn’t talk so much about the precise “will” He wants us to follow through with, but instead talks abundantly about the “way” He wants us to do things in the first place— the way He wants us to think and treat people, the way He wants us to surrender and be faithful. He never seems to care about anything more than people knowing and loving Him, and loving His people. He doesn’t seem to care too much about the things we so adamantly obsess over.
The verse I reference in my piece is from Paul, in prison for preaching the Gospel, speaking on being content wherever He is. I love that verse. He did not care if he was behind riches or behind bars—as long as he was living for Jesus, he was content wherever.
Another verse that really spoke to me in that state of wondering is found in James 4.
Verses 13-15 state, “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city. We will spend a year there. We will buy and sell and make money.’ You don’t even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? It is a mist that appears for a little while. Then it disappears. Instead, you should say, ‘If it pleases the Lord, we will live and do this or that.’”
Here the writer is practically mocking us, giving us a fresh perspective on the things we worry about. He is saying, “Who cares about the details? Who cares about the plans? You’re not going to be here for forever anyway. Wherever you go, whatever you do, make sure you please the Lord there.”
I learned something that changed my life that year, and it’s the ending line to my 2013’s album & tour’s title piece, “Maps.”
When I am here, asking, “Where’s the right place to be?” He answers simply, “Where you are seeking Me.”
As it turned out, my physical place didn’t matter all that much. What mattered was that I was in a place of surrender. I was in a place of seeking God. I was so desperate for Him, reading His Word everyday, having hours of intimacy with Him everyday, longing to have His discernment everyday—and that place of hunger, that place of obedience was indeed the right place to be.
We can’t ruin God’s plan by choosing a certain school, job, or city. We are just not that powerful. But we can ruin our own relationship with God, the quality of our own lives, by not being in a place of seeking Him daily, by not being in a place where He is in the center of our thoughts and desires. If we miss Him, then we are the ones who undoubtedly miss out. Instead, we need to be in a place where we are content with knowing and following Him. We need to be in a place where we say, “If it pleases the Lord, I will do this or that.” We need to be in a place where we say, “I am seeking God with all my heart. I am right where I am supposed to be.”
In Psalm 84:10, the songwriter states,
“A single day in your courtyards is better than a thousand anywhere else. I would rather guard the door of the house of my God than live in the tents of sinful people.”
Prior to the Summer of 2011, I had been in a place of worshipping men, status, and my own fleshly desires. But that day, I was in a different place. For the first time in a long time, I was in the right place. I filled that room with worship as I spoke to the Lord over and over, “One day with you is better than a thousand somewhere else. I just want to be where you are. I just want to know you.”
I was in the right place.
May we all be in that right place. That place of seeking God. That place of indulging in His Word. That place of looking like Him, loving others like Him, and trading in our own desires for Him. May we not obsess over the maps. May we not worry about the plans. If we are pleasing the Lord, we can do this or that. Wherever we go, whatever we do, we will be in the right place if we are seeking, loving, and following Him.