Dose of Truth

Off our map

Tim Richards

About a year ago my oldest daughter, Johanna, gave me the fascinating book, “Canoeing the Mountains” by Tod Bolsinger, in which the author writes about today’s rapidly changing times. The book’s name comes from the experiences of Lewis and Clark, who were given the task of tracing the Mississippi River westward to the ocean. Here is how historians Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan describe the moment Meriwether Lewis realized the river did not cross the continent.

“He was approaching the farthest boundary of the Louisiana Territory, the Continental Divide – the spire of the Rocky Mountains beyond which the rivers flowed west. No American citizen had ever been there before. This he believed was the Northwest Passage: the goal of explorers for more than three centuries, the grand prize that Thomas Jefferson had sent him to find and claim for the United States. With each stride, Lewis was nearing what he expected to be the crowning moment of his expedition and his life. From the vantage point just ahead, all of science and geography had prepared him to see the watershed of the Columbia and beyond it perhaps, a great plain that led down to the Pacific. Instead there were just more mountains – ‘immense ranges of high mountains still to the West of us’ he wrote, ‘with their tops partially covered with snow.’ At that moment, in the daunting vista spread out at the feet of Meriwether Lewis, the dream of an easy water route across the continent – a dream stretching back to Christopher Columbus – was shattered.”

Neither you nor I will be sent to explore uncharted territory by the president only to realize our mission was based upon a false assumption. However, everyone eventually hits a brick wall and has a dream blow up. For some it is a layoff notice, for others a devastating medical diagnosis, a spouse who no longer wants to be married, a child who goes off the rails, or a trusted friend who betrays us.

Everyone at some point faces a situation they did not see coming. The real issue is not the crises, but what we do in those critical moments when we have no clue what to do next.

The Bible addresses situations like these when it says, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy… If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you…” (James 1:2, 5, NLT)

To paraphrase James, when the path we are on ends and all we can see are mountains ahead, do not give up, look up to God. Good can often be found even in our worst moments. The challenges you and I face frequently take us off our map, but they never take us off God’s.

Tim Richards

has been a pastor for 37 years, serving five churches, including his current church, The Refuge in St. Louis, which he founded. He and the congregation minister to those who are hurting and do their part to expand God’s kingdom. Tim and his wife Kelly have five children. “A Dose of Truth” which he has written for more than 25 years appears in 13 newspapers. His book, “Thriving in the Storm: Discovering God’s Peace and Perspective in Turbulent Times,” is available from Amazon. Feel free to contact him at Photography is another of his skills. Pastor Tim’s photos may be viewed at

Verified by MonsterInsights