Lost and Found

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A few years ago, I experienced the adventure of walking through an authentic European garden maze. 
The first time I saw an aerial photo of one of those labyrinthine backyard hedges – the playgrounds of the rich and bored during the Enlightenment – I yearned to encounter one first-hand.  Opportunity knocked when I visited Hampton Court Palace, one of the historic country residences of the English monarchy just outside London.
Back in 1702 an enterprising gardener planted an interconnecting series of hedges (pictured above).  He then allowed them to grow up to their current height of seven feet. 
I was surprised to discover that the entrance and the exit to the maze were one and the same. “That’s too easy,” I thought.  “All I have to do is go backwards and I come right out again.”  Disappointed by that discovery, I decided to concentrate on taking pictures of other people in the maze. 
Many were obviously having fun.  Others didn’t seem to be having much fun at all. 
Some people looked desperate.  “Oh, come on,” I chuckled to myself.  After 10 minutes I decided to make my way back to the entrance / exit.  I knew just where to go.
Or maybe not.
It was intriguing at first:  My sense of direction was obviously skewed.  I made seven or eight attempts to get on the right path, only to discover that I was heading deeper into the maze.  Suddenly, for the first time, I stumbled into the center.  How did that happen?  I looked at my watch.  My ride would be coming soon.
I wasn’t in trouble here, was I?
I picked up the pace…and thus saw new and unfamiliar parts of the maze more quickly.  I kept bumping into some of the people I had photographed.  Some appeared to have gone without food for three or four days.  How do you get out of this thing? 
Twice I passed an ominous junction with a sign that said, “If you need assistance getting out, wait here for help.”  No way.  I would rather claw my way through the hedges than admit defeat.
All of a sudden I turned a corner and saw the exit.  My family would see me again.  Jeremiah 29:11 took on a whole new meaning:  “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to give you hope and a future.”
When I returned to my host’s home in London I told my story of getting lost in the maze – very dramatically, of course.  The grown-ups smiled.  One of their young daughters said, rather matter-of-factly, “Oh, I know how to go through that maze.  Keep turning right on the way in, and keep turning left on the way out.  It works every time.”
I should have asked a child.
That’s what Jesus advised, of course.  Someone with childlike trust often finds it easier to go forward in the world than a driven, self-confident adult. 
What’s the starting point for walking with God?  We must be willing to un-learn our ancient reflexes of self-reliance. 
Otherwise we may spend more time than we can imagine lost between the hedges.