But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these other things shall be added unto you as well. – Matthew 6:33
Yesterday was National Lost Day. Of course it was. Because the numbers 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42 made as much sense to me as the nonsensical directions I was getting from my maps app.
(Note: If you’re not a fan of the TV show Lost, the previous reference makes no sense. If you are a Lost fan, it makes only slightly more sense.)
I was meeting my son and his wife at a restaurant they love on the fringes of downtown. I used to live downtown, but I didn’t know this particular outlying area, so I used a maps app.
Five minutes from the restaurant, the app stopped working. And that five minutes spread into 20.
The problem was multifold. First, my phone was set on wifi, and I kept drifting in and out of mobile hot spots. Second, the downtown area is full of one-way streets and roads under construction. Third, the maps app didn’t take the road or construction issues into consideration and also completely ignored the major intersection right near the restaurant. That would have been good information to have.
My son very patiently stood sentry outside the restaurant. My phone rang. “Mom, I see you. Just turn left at the light, and make another immediate left, and you’ll be right here.” But I then learned that intersection was reworked so you can no longer turn left there. You have to pass it and then do a U-turn down the road. Eventually, despite sitting through two red lights at the same intersection, I got there and landed the parking spot my son had saved for me for the 20 minutes I had circled the area.
Partial directions had been of no help to me. I needed an intervention. Were it not for my son spotting me from a block away, I’m not sure I ever would have gotten there.
Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light onto my path . . . I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You. – Psalm 119:9,11
Partial directions are also a pitfall in the church. Earlier yesterday I had been reminded about the vast number of Christians who are misled by false teachers. These teachers serve up portions of the truth but withhold the whole counsel of God. This is a pitfall among those who follow the prosperity gospel (rightly called out by John Piper) but also among several prominent denominations. The result is a fleet of misguided Christians who fail to follow God’s intended path for their lives.
If I had only looked at a map and noticed the huge, familiar intersection down the street from the restaurant, getting there would have been a no-brainer. But I didn’t. And if Christians would only make it their business to become biblically literate – not relying on someone to tell them what the Bible says but to take that responsibility upon themselves – we as a church would be on a very different path. That path would likely lead us to greater credibility and effectiveness in our witness among an unbelieving world.
On Monday morning I’m meeting a new client in an unfamiliar part of town. And you can bet I’ll review a map first instead of just relying on an app to give me turn-by-turn directions. The one roadmap I’ll never overlook is the one outlined in God’s Word. The next time you catch yourself getting off course, just remember where to find the best source of directions.