Red Herrings

This past weekend I had the opportunity to try an escape room. It's a group activity in which the goal is to "escape the room" by solving a puzzle using a series of clues in a set amount of time. It was a blast! 

The group I was with was my family which made it all the more fun. The first escape room had a time limit of 20 minutes. We felt pretty good when we completed it in 8 minutes and 3 seconds! Onto the harder one. A time limit of 30 minutes.

What's interesting about being in an "escape room" is that it draws out your temperament and how you handle the stress of success or failure right in front of you.

So we failed the second escape room. We couldn't solve the puzzle in the allotted time. What was wonderful though is that the guide explained to us the clue we missed. He showed us how we were supposed to get the code for the combination lock from the geography map. He also shared how well we started off when we worked together on the clues, but then we got divided. He said it was in our division that he knew he had us. He mentioned how we got caught up in the red herrings. That particularly spoke to me because I was convinced that these mini kid blocks in the room were part of a clue, and I must have spent a third of the time trying to make sense of them. 

I must say this failure gave us some good material in debriefing! 

I think each of us has red herrings in our lives. We have things that we think are very important and part of God's plan for us, but they're not. We try so hard to make them fit into our lives. We say, "they wouldn't be there if they weren't important, right?" but in focusing on them we lose sight of what God has already revealed. We forget that God has revealed so much specifically for each one of us. We think that his plan is not going fast enough. Or we think what he revealed was too simple or too little and we want to focus on something bigger. We skip over his "clues" (inspirations, nudges and resolutions) and chase the red herrings.

We can bring this to prayer. We can ask God, are there red herrings in my life? Am I focused on something that doesn't actually matter? Am I distracted from the path you have set for me? Am I divided within myself? 

Let us take a step back and look at the concrete clues God has given us. He has spoken to you in your prayer, in the depths of your heart, in Scripture and through others. Recall what resolutions you have made and stick to them.

The red herrings are appealing because they're on the scene, but there's nothing like knowing you're on the right path.