True north

Rich Dixon has spent a lot of time following maps. So when he questions them in today’s post, it’s worth paying attention.


I think a lot about compasses.

It’s weird, because I couldn’t tell you the last time I used a real, physical compass. On the other hand, we use lots of maps on our bike tours.

Start here. Follow this road. Turn there. We’ve learned the hard way that good maps make everything go more smoothly. Beginning with “a general idea of the route” is a recipe for a bad day.

However – life isn’t a bike tour, and that what’s got me thinking about compasses. Maps work great for trips on pre-defined roads. We get off course when we try to force a map onto a journey designed for a compass.

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Too often you and I treat Jesus like a map. We parse His words for turn-by-turn, red-letter instructions. I don’t think Jesus meant to provide those kinds of directions, because He so frequently used parables and phrases like “Follow Me” and “The kingdom of God is like…”

Those aren’t maps. They’re a compass. They point toward an eternal True North and invite us to use it to navigate our own circumstances.

Intentional or not, when we treat Jesus like a map we’re acting a bit like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. We’re searching for ways to follow the directions while we ignore the entire purpose of the journey.

I recall from Boy Scouts that navigating by compass was frustrating. A detailed map with would have been much easier, but easy wasn’t the point. We were learning how to negotiate unknown terrain by referencing dependable, unchanging markers.

Jesus wanted to prepare us for unfamiliar terrain. So instead of a map, which becomes outdated as roads change, He gave us a set of eternal principles, a True North by which we can navigate even the most difficult, unexpected terrain.

Oh, and He promised He would always travel with us.

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