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Follow Your Heart – But Check the Map

It may sound heartless, but I had to laugh when I read the story of Amanda Eller of Maui ( She took a pleasant walk in the Makawao Forest Reserve one day and got lost. She followed her intuition – her gut instincts – which she says are very good. Unfortunately, her intuition took her in the wrong direction, away from her car (where she’d left her phone).

After spending 17 days lost in the forest, falling off a cliff and breaking her leg, tearing her meniscus, nearly starving to death, causing over 100 people plus helicopters to hold up their lives and look for her, having her mother put up a $10,000 reward – everything turned out for the best! She was found, rescued, and is recovering from her injuries and ordeal.

Now I’m the first one to say, “Follow your heart. Listen to your intuition.” But let’s not neglect the obvious. Take your phone and a map. Don’t leave them in the car. She wandered around for 17 days, making it harder to find her. Didn’t she know that, if you’re lost, you should stay put? Find an obvious spot where people can see you and just sit there until they find you. How about, “Stay on the path?” If you’re lost, why make things worse by heading off into the forest? She followed a path on the way in, why not stay on that path? If she had done these simple things, she likely would have been home before nightfall – or within a day or two at worst.

I’m relating this because it’s a metaphor for our spiritual life. Sure enough, sometimes we get lost. We find ourselves in a spiritual jungle and don’t know where to go. Listen to your heart – absolutely. God is always speaking to our hearts.

But don’t neglect the obvious. God also speaks to us through sacred scripture. That’s the map. Keep it with you and follow it as best you can. We might still get lost, but the map is a pretty good guide. It’s there to help.

The spiritual map and cellphone – don’t leave home without them.

And what about our phone? We can always call on someone: friends, family, pastors, even a helpline. God also puts other people in our lives to guide us. Rather than avoiding the obvious and having hundreds of people and helicopters working to get us out of our spiritual jungle, why not just a call one or two people close to us and ask for their help?

And stay on the path. Even if you think it’s the wrong path, it’s still better than not being on any path at all. Sooner or later someone else will come down that path and point you in the right direction. The path will lead to your car (home, spiritual destiny, whatever). The jungle will not.

Isn’t it ironic that we sometimes have to wander aimlessly around the spiritual jungle of life instead of using the simple tools that are already in our hands. The spiritual map and cellphone – don’t leave home without them.

God Bless You!

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