A couple of years ago, I spent a summer tour guiding at the Parliament of Canada. Visitors young and old from across the world flocked to marvel at one of our nation’s most prized monuments, take photos of Parliamentary chambers and admire the view of the national capital from the top deck of the clock tower. Although the majority of these tours ran smoothly, logistical bumps would often spring up along the way.
No sooner would my colleagues and I ask visitors to keep the door closed at the end of the hall when several would promptly push it open and begin milling into the hall on the right, reserved only for staff and parliamentarians.
No matter how many times we asked visitors to stay on the left side when walking from stop to stop (a trick to keep traffic running smoothly in the building), there would always be a few who wandered to the right to take photos.
Despite our pleas for the visitors to stay with the group, a determined few would hang back to admire particularly ornate pillars or appealing tableaux, only to lose the group and rejoin us at another stop with a constable’s help.
And then there were the anxious questions:
“How many more stops?”
“Can’t we take this shortcut?”
“How come we can’t go there?”
“Can we slow down?”
“Can we pick up the pace?”
“Why does she get to go in that room? Is she more important than us or something?”
“Will you show us where the exit is when the tour is done?”
Sometimes, I felt my energy flagging and my patience wearing thin. If only they would quit straying off by themselves! If only they would follow me without questioning every step and every turn! If only they would trust me! In such cases, I comforted myself with the thought that I was only their guide for 40 minutes. After that, the tour would end, I would let them go and their whereabouts would no longer be my responsibility. My fellow guides and I enjoyed laughing and exchanging stories about the “annoying visitors” who had sent our tours lurching on a hundred more hiccups than we would have liked.
It was that summer that I read Psalm 48:14 with fresh eyes: “For this is our God forever and ever, He will be our guide even to the end.”
How many times have I turned a deaf ear to God’s instructions, wandering off the road He wants me on because I thought another one was better? How many times have I protested in times of waiting, craning my neck to get a sneak peek at what’s ahead before He reveals it to me? How many times have I shown my lack of trust in Him by worrying whether my studies, career or relationships were headed in the right direction—when He alone holds the best road map? In my walk with Christ, I have been more impatient and wayward than any of my visitors were in the Parliament Buildings. Yet He promises: “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). He promises to lead me “even to the end” of life’s route—which takes a lot longer than 40 minutes to traverse. Talk about a patient guide!
How can we give thanks to the good Shepherd who “guides [us] on paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3) and promises to never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6), no matter how many detours and wrong steps we take?