A voice in the wilderness: Welcome to Minnesota

News | December 12, 2018

I’m a “big picture” person. Details aren’t my strength. This is best exemplified by a trip I took by myself to Minnesota – or more specifically, the trip I took home.

I had attended a conference in Minneapolis and, since it was fall, I decided to follow the Mississippi back down to the Quad Cities and take in the beauty of the trees in their full autumnal majesty. On the way home, I decided to stop at Effigy Mounds National Monument in Harper’s Ferry, Iowa. It was moving to take in this sacred space with the colored leaves falling gently around me as I quietly hiked the trail. Wrapped up in this spiritual experience, I got in my car to head home. I stopped when I saw the sign.

“Welcome to Minnesota”

I had driven 30 miles north without realizing it.

The next fall, I decided to share this beautiful place with my wife for our anniversary. We enjoyed the fall colors and the views of the river. When we pulled out to drive home, she asked, “Is this where you got turned around and drove the wrong direction?” When I told her it was, she noted that, when driving south in Iowa, the Mississippi River should always be on my left and pointed out the window to the river. I had driven 30 miles, wrapped up in my thoughts, with the largest river in the United States on my right-hand side.

Sometimes life is like that for me. I get lost. I go in the wrong direction. I find myself in the wilderness of anxiety or hurt. And I don’t pick up on the signals (sometimes as large as the Mississippi) that will help me find my way home.

The comfort for me in my faith is that God is always there to point me back to where I should go. With God’s help, I’m always able to find my way home again.

Even if I have to go a little out of my way to get there.

Derek Ball is a member of St. Paul with his wife, Lisa (who still has to help him with the details), and their kids David and Gracie.  He works as a licensed marriage and family therapist at Marriage and Family Counseling Service in Rock Island and lives in Davenport.

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