On Saturday, I drove to Columbus to participate in a workshop on Biblical Storytelling. I’ve spent time in Columbus, but it’s been 15 years, easily, since I was last there. But I was armed with a good map, extra time, my favorite CD, and coffee, and it was a beautiful day, so I felt ready to make the journey.
The workshop was taking place at King Avenue United Methodist Church, and per my directions, I exited the freeway, turned left and found Kinnear and Olentangy River Roads. Olentangy splits, though, and being directionally challenged, I took the wrong path.
I found myself taking a very pleasant, scenic drive along Olentangy River Road. But after about 20 minutes, it occurred to me I was going the wrong way. I should have arrived at the church by now, and I hadn’t even seen King Avenue.
I backtracked, came to a gas station, and asked Erik, the young man behind the counter, where I had to go.
He said I was almost there, gave me good directions and said, “It should only take you about five minutes from here.”
Perfect! I thanked him, left, and continued on my way. I wound up back at the place where I’d gotten off the highway in front of a movie theater. It was then I noticed where I’d made my mistake. This time I chose the right way.
King Avenue itself was tricky to find and then, even counting the addresses, I wasn’t 100% sure if that huge old church I passed was the right one. It resembled a castle or small fortress. It turns out the stately building of blond stones, heavy wood doors and stained glass windows was, in fact, the right place.
I found a place to park, and pulled on the first door I came to.
I walked around the side of the building and tried the next pair of doors.
At the next entrance, four doors wide, I yanked on the massive handles.
After a three hour drive – including getting lost – I felt a little irritated. And embarrassed. I shouldn’t have this much trouble getting where I need to be. It shouldn’t be this hard. I’m smarter than that.
A young man in mirrored sunglasses, carrying a backpack and walking with purpose, passed me.
“Excuse me!” I called. “If I was the door to get into this church, where would I be?”
Even with the sunglasses on, the stillness in his face told me he was at a loss for an answer.
“I am not sure,” he replied with a thick accent. “I am not from around here. But I will wish you luck and say, ‘keep trying.'” He smiled and strode on.
I sighed, and walked around the next corner.
I’d gone almost completely around the church’s exterior to my parking space, when I came upon a large sign that said ENTRANCE and had a long red arrow pointing at the next set of doors.
I laughed. “Thanks.”
Again, two sets of doors. I pulled on the first one. Locked!
Was God trying to tell me something? Did I miss a memo?
Finally, the last door. I pulled. It opened with a whisper and a rush of cool air greeted me.
The moral of the story?
There are many paths to faith. There are many homes and fortresses and many doors. You have to try a lot of locks and get directions sometimes. But ultimately, you are shown the way to go.