Signposts: Daily Devotions

Saturday, May 10

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
—Isaiah 55:8

Few things are as off-putting as tourists who complain that their destination lacks the familiarity of home. They may grumble that they can’t understand the language, that they aren’t comfortable using the local currency, that they miss their favorite foods. Why, they wonder, can’t these “foreigners” adapt to them?

As someone well versed in today’s vernacular might say, “Duh.” Why leave home if you aren’t willing to experience something new?

In our spiritual lives, too, we are often quick to let our expectations, our beliefs about how things should be, get in the way of an authentic encounter with the Divine. Rather than entering into the experience and letting it unfold as it will, we constrain it with our preconceptions and demands. Imagining that we know what God has to say to us, we miss the message altogether.

Unlike the provincial tourist, who can’t see beyond his or her own history, the bona fide traveler approaches the unfamiliar with the attitude of a student. This pilgrim knows that there is much to learn, and that openness to the unfamiliar can bring both growth and joy.

Such an attitude doesn’t call for turning one’s back on what has been seen, touched, or tasted before; it doesn’t mean rejecting the known for the new. Rather, it simply calls for making room in our lives for a vision outside our own.

The spiritual explorer can find a valuable lesson here. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord,” the book of Isaiah tells us. In our relationship with the Holy, we are continually entering new landscapes, and God is continually doing something new.

O God, when I am comfortable with what I think I know of you, you break through my complacency and teach me, again and again, that there is much to learn.

The Signposts for May are written by Susan Hanson and originally appeared on in September 2004.