Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
~ John 14:5
When I was younger I had this notion that there was a formula to life. An X plus Y that would always be equal to Z. I’m not entirely sure where I got this bright idea from. Maybe it was the constant rhetoric we all got fed as kids-work hard and life will [automatically] be good to you. Maybe it was all those hours spent devouring mystery novels that always had a happy ending. Or the subsequent hours thereafter when I built my own sandcastles that never crumbled under the crush of the waves.
Whatever the source, it had me convinced that if I could just discover this equation and stick to it, then life would work out right. Every single time. So when I would put in 2 and 2 and life would occasionally spit out 5, I’d get puzzled. Wonder what I did wrong. Make some corrections and try again. Sometimes I got the 4 I was looking for. Sometimes I didn’t. The latter didn’t deter me. It only made me more determined to find my elusive formula. And for years I was one determined kid.
But somewhere along the way I realized that unlike a math formula, life doesn’t feel obligated to honour my hard work with correct answers. And even more unsettling, what I had deemed to be correct may not be so right after all.
It made me start questioning how I look at life, at things, at people. Though I sometimes give credence to what other people have to say, ultimately I’ve always believed in making my own choices. How do I distinguish between good and bad? How do I separate right from wrong? Sounds easy enough on the surface. For instance, lying is bad. Telling the truth is good. So if I see my friend’s boyfriend in a compromising situation with another woman, should I tell on him because truth is good? What if my friend is the one cheating on her partner? Is truth still good? And what extent of truth? Telling on her? Or just telling her off?
Therein lies the crux of my problem. On my own, I have a magnetic north. The North in my internal compass is never constant. Everything is defined on the basis of my position. A position that always keeps changing with circumstance. The world within me changing. The world around me changing.
Each one of us has an internal compass that directs our thoughts and actions. Regardless of where you get your compass from, it’ll have a North on it. Yet God is calling us to the one True North – Christ on the Cross that points heavenward. An internal compass whose direction never wavers. So that in spite of what goes on within us and in the world around us, we have a constant North which will always lead us home to Him.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
~ John 14:6
My teacher once told us it’s not the big errors you should worry about. More often than not you can see them coming from a mile away. The small errors on the other hand, often prove more deadly. Because people hardly ever see them before it’s too late. And even if they do, they’ll often underestimate the impact they could have.
If I was headed North and turned one degree to my right, for a while I’d still be headed in the right direction. But the farther I move forward, the farther away I get from my original destination. And I’m not likely to realize it until I find myself closer to East than North.
Today’s Christian often swings back and forth between the True North and their own magnetic north in rather impressive fashion. Whether out of convenience, sheer ignorance or a cocktail of both the result is the same-a bride who’s supposed to be getting ready for her Groom ends up looking like something the cat dragged in. We carry the title of the True North alright. But not much else. I look at the early church and today’s church and get puzzled. Same all-powerful God. Two very different churches. One roaring in testament to the Lion of Judah. The other, well, barely squeaks.
Even after we get saved, so many of us are still trying to make 2 and 2 add up to 4 like we want it to. Like we think it’s supposed to. Using life formulas given to us by a world full of “logic”. Forgetting that we are not of this world. Forgetting that where we belong, in the kingdom of God, 2 and 2 adds up to whatever God wants it to. Five loaves and two fish anyone? And whatever God wants usually ends up being way better than anything we could have come up with. If we have to debate even that, then maybe we don’t know our God as well as we think we do.
Where do you get your internal compass? When people look at you, who does your life point to? Yourself? The world? Or Jesus, the one True North?