Friends, today I wanna talk about how zigzag lines make for a better story. So, good story is not a straight line I heard a friend say just recently. And it really arrested my attention mostly because I wish it wasn’t true. Intellectually I know this idea, like, it makes sense. Like when you listen to the arc of a story, the hero’s journey, all of that is like, oh, of course, a hero wants something. They have to go through some challenge and obstacle to overcome, to become someone different, to then arrive at the other side and, [vocalization].
However, living that is really challenging for us. I remember the reason this really hit home for me recently is decades ago in the beginning, I really wanted to be a mountain guide. And I was working in outdoor retail and was apprenticing as a guide under a guide service and just couldn’t wait to be like, that was gonna be my career. And then I would be out exploring the rugged blank spots on the map. And really at the time I just had a lot of internal grapple when that didn’t come to be.
And, you know, I thought that if at the time if I went into the business world that I was somehow going to lose my friendship with the heart of God because for growing up, I didn’t really know anyone in business. The only few that I did know were not necessarily inspiring humans. And so I thought that the mountains was gonna be the way that I could, you know, become the person I’m intended to be. So as my wife and I began to have kids and I got a full-time job selling radio advertising and, you know, home by 5 PM for dinner and bedtime stories, my outdoor life shrunk substantially. And really at the time, I remember just, not only were we having a great time, but internally I just felt like, well, I guess I kind of misread the’ tea leaves’ there and, you know, oh, here we go, this is the story that’s in front of me right now.
And so maybe you’re like me, maybe you really just prefer an A plus B equals C plan. The one that’s linear, it’s sequential, has predictable outcomes and only straight lines. And if you’re like me, then maybe my friend Jon Blase’s poem will help land this idea a little bit. He writes the same apparently. So he is talking about people with, you know, five-year plans, forged through life with a plan, a map they chart by bolder stars. I, on the other hand, wake to mild confusion, most days, not about the tiny aspects of self-respect, such as brushing my teeth and paying my bills, but more like the big things. Like my destiny, etc. Thanks, John. So for me, I’m not a celestial navigator either. But I do wake and this is I guess a path that I found to bring life. I do wake most days and start with radical surrender and asking God to accept the path that’s in front of me for this day. There’s a great writing by King David I’ll add here too from Psalm 119, from The Message translation. And he says, “You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God. You’re blessed when you follow His directions, doing your best to find Him. That’s right you don’t go off on your own. You walk straight along the road He sets.” David White calls it the pale ground beneath our feet.
So in this desire for straight unbroken lines, linear paths from A to B, and oftentimes just losing the path along the way of feeling like, well, I guess that was never to be, or I guess I misread the ‘tea leaves’, or I totally got that wrong and botched it, that’ll never come to be. What I’m learning now, as I stare down age 50, that inclusive of all of my jagged lines, the cliff jumps, the plummets, the high places, unbroken lines as Wendell Berry writes, all have culminated in a story that I would love to tell you over a campfire sometime. That now here I am wholehearted, still friends with God. And now I’m finding myself accompanying clients in both the frontiers of business and wilderness settings.
My conclusion is I’ve been led. So my invitation to you today, friends, is embrace your long way around. All of the squiggly lines, and allow yourself to be led. Because a great story, a good story is often not a straight line. You can do this. It’s good for you.