I love old maps. I remember as a kid my grandmother bought us a subscription to the National Geographic Society magazine. There were stories of explorers and countries and strange cultures. Even at a young age I loved looking at the photographs and imagined myself there in the middle of the jungle, or the desert, or whichever exotic location was featured this month. And I loved getting the issue that had the map.
I used to love unfolding them and seeing the names of the places, reading the facts about the countries. I even used to write off to various states’ travel bureaus to get maps of their states. I had a whole collection of maps. The reproductions of old maps always had a special place in my imagination.
I remember a map of the early US colonies that showed the states stretching out across the country. They just kept going and going because the map makers really had no idea of what was out there or how far the country went. On really old maps the makers would fill in the blank unknown with phrases like “Here There Be Dragons.” It served as a warning, and it filled in the gaps of their knowledge with fear. Those who would use the maps to explore too far off the known paths did so at their own peril. If you made it back alive, you couldn’t exactly request a refund if the map wasn’t quite a representation of what was actually there. You took the map maker a his word at your own risk.
But what do we use to guide us today? Obviously we have GPS and satellites to help us get from point A to point B. But are the “map makers” we use to help us make our life decisions any more reliable than those old-time map makers who covered up their ignorance with fear? Do we look at society and pop culture for our guidance? Do we look to our favorite political party? Or Do we look to God?
I’m reminded of the children of Israel who after generations of slavery in Egypt were guided by God to their promised land. He told them to go take the land of their forefathers, but they didn’t have any knowledge of what was ahead. And they filled in the gaps of their knowledge with fear. “There be giants in the land” was their report. And there may have been. But they forgot who was guiding them. They let fear dictate their course instead of the God who was giving them direction.