The Old Map

Just found something I wrote back in 2002, around the time when I was finally born again after 12 years in the church. (I wrote about that here.)

Imagine this…

You’ve heard of a very beautiful and special town and you’ve decided you want to go there. You ask someone for directions, someone who seems to know about that town. He takes you on a train and, after a few stops, says, ‘OK, this is where we get off.’

You get off the train and begin to settle in in this new place. You find somewhere to live, get a job, and find out where the shops are. There’s an old map you’ve carried with you, a map you found in the library back home – this map had sparked your interest in that special town and made you want to go there. But as you try to use this map to find your way around, you find that the streets don’t correspond to the map! ‘It’s only an old map,’ the people there explain to you, ‘you can’t always rely on it.’ But nevertheless they talk reverently of the old map, as if it’s special. ‘There’s a lot of beauty in the map,’ they say in hushed tones. They can even see some deep symbolism in the street names.

Quietly you wonder to yourself about this odd situation. Why should we use a map if it’s no good as a map? you ask yourself. You hear about people who do believe the map is true, but these people are regarded as imbeciles, to be pitied and not taken too seriously. After all, anyone can see that the map shows streets that are no longer there, and there are many places missing on it.

For twelve years you wonder. Then one blessed day you hear a voice as you look at the map. The voice whispers, ‘Right map. Wrong town.’

Let those who have ears, hear.

17 thoughts on “The Old Map

  1. I really like this metaphor. I think so many people are resigned to the fact that the reality of the town is different from the way it's described, too scared maybe or too comfortable to be willing to look for the other town.

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  2. Yes, waiting for it. Perhaps that's what the majority are doing. I waited for 20 years, and I only started really seeking when I got to my lowest point and was really desperate for 'the real thing'. "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart".

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  3. I meant I was waiting for the bit where she would discover she was in the wrong town.There are many teachings that are not only not from the Bible, but also contradict the Bible. Some things are more blatant than others. Some need great discernment to search out. It just made sense that it would not be that the map was wrong, but that the town would be a skewed imitation.

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  4. I'm glad to see at least two people can see what I'm talking about. (It's tricky sometimes with metaphors.)When I first met God and started reading the Bible, I was very excited. But my excitement was dampened by people around me – who sincerely regarded themselves as Christians – who seemed to take it all with a big pinch of salt. It was only 12 years later – back home in Israel – that I finally met a bunch of people who take the Bible seriously. It was a huge relief to find that yes, it is okay to believe this stuff!

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  5. Are you saying that saying they never had it to start with is worse than saying they had it and lost it?I somehow feel more hopeful for those who have never had it – I feel all they need is to be introduced to the source of the fire. Whereas if someone has had it and lost it, I feel more sad for such people.I guess I'm answering your question really – I believe it's much easier to ignite a new flame. An old flame that died – you'd need to find out why it died I suppose, clear out anything that's been choking the fire, and only then could you try and get it going again.

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  6. Well, I was thinking when I wrote it that perhaps those 'dead' flames are not actually as dead as they appear, just dampened by the environment, and all they really need is a bit of encouragement to fan the flames again? Whereas those who never had the flame might only be in church because they like the club?

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  7. I know this has become a little bit of an old thread now, but I thought I must share with you, I met an old friend for coffee the other day, and she said "I've found Jesus; isn't it just the best thing! I wish I'd done it years ago!" I hardly knew what to say! I smiled and laughed and agreed, but couldn't help thinking that I don't know that kind of joy of knowing Him. That's not to say I don't have the passion, or that I don't love Him, I just don't recognise her experience.

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  8. With some of us, there is no such thing as an old thread. ;)I pray your friend's new faith is rooted in true joy in Jesus rather than a mere euphoria that fizzles out to disillusionment. I've seen so many new christians soar high only to crash and burn later when all the worldly blessings promised them do not materialize. If her hope is in Jesus and not just the blessings he can bring, then she will do well and the fire of her passion will not burn out.

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  9. I agree, no thread is ever too old!And I understand Leigh Ann's caution about the euphoria that can fizzle out. There is the parable about the sower and the seeds, some fell where they grew quickly but didn't put down deep roots.I think we each come to faith in very different ways, and there's no pattern that everyone's experience will follow. If you have accepted him as your saviour, that's the main thing. If you're not sure if you have or not – then do it now. It's not about feelings, it's not about getting a buzz or a "high", it's about knowing that your salvation is secure.

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  10. I have no doubt that He is mine and I am His, but my friend talked about having a niggling emptiness which led her to Jesus, and when I drove home, I thought, well I have him, I love Him, but I still have an emptiness, and I don't have any lasting joy. But then perhaps personality types have something to do with it, as my friend is very up-beat, and I'm (generally) very serious and sometimes just rather melancholy. I don't know, it just made me wonder if actually I'm *still* missing something.

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  11. Thanks for sharing how you feel.I think personality types do have something to do with it some of the time. Some would have you believe that if you've been born again you ought to be happy and bouncy and excited all the time, but that's simply because they are assuming everyone ought to be like them. We are not all the same, and we also have seasons in our lives – times of greater joy and times of sadness and all sorts of shades in between.Now your friend had an emptiness that led her to Jesus, which is great, it's one of the ways God gets our attention, he uses our emptiness and our pain to draw us to him – and also to draw us closer to him. Salvation is a one-off event, but there is a process that only starts at that point and goes on. None of us have arrived. So if there are still feelings of emptiness in you, I would say just keep taking those feelings to God and see what he will do. If you're wondering if you're actually still missing something – well, on one level I think we are all still missing something until we get to heaven; but also, there are stages in our lives and every now and again God may have something more to give you, another bit of you that he wants to sort out, and negative feelings can be a prod to do that – to go to him with these emotions and see what is on his agenda right now.I hope this is all making sense to you. I'm speaking from my own experience as just recently God sorted out another bit in me. It was a painful process but I feel so much better now!So what am I saying? 1. Yes, different personality types do have a lot to do with how bouncy or serious we are. but 2. Emptiness is something God can use to draw us closer and to change us. and 3. "Still missing something" is a condition that carries on, with some ups and downs, until we meet him face to face.

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