When We Find Ourselves in Uncharted Territory

When President Thomas Jefferson commissioned Lewis and Clark to go explore the new territory the U.S. had acquired from France in the Louisiana Purchase (a whopping 530,000,000 acres), he gave them a map. The only problem with the map was it didn’t have much information. Everything west of the Mississippi River was labeled as Terra Incognita, a Latin phrase for “Unknown Territory.” There were no states and no boundaries…just wide-open space. As the first white-skinned people to venture west of the Mississippi, Lewis and Clark would find themselves in uncharted territory. They would have to fill in the map as they went along.

Would you agree that it feels kind of the same these days, as if we’re in uncharted territory? As we attempt to process the quickly changing circumstances surrounding the coronavirus, it’s like the only map we have says terra incognita. We’re struggling for a frame of reference. We’ve never been here before. We’ve never witnessed these things. Travel Bans, cancellation of the noncancelable, quarantines…completely unfamiliar. For us, these things are unprecedented. 

But thankfully, not for God.He has seen circumstances like this before. To be sure, He has a frame of reference. He is familiar with crisis’ such as this and, what’s more, He isn’t worried. He has faithfully Shepherded folks like us through scary things like this down through the ages and He is more than willing to do it again. Take this classic passage to heart as you read it:

1 The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever. -David, Psalm 23

Though we don’t recognize this strange moment in which we find ourselves, we can take heart in knowing that goodness and mercy are right behind us. We can trust the Lord and lean into Him for strength. We can be still and know that He is God. He is, after all, the Waymaker.

So, may He grant us the grace to respond to this crisis with love and courage. For Jesus’ sake, may our lights shine and our faith shimmer. 

It’s a new day with God. Run with it.