Know Your Directions


Are you good at giving directions? A lot depends on the orientation of the person you’re giving directions to. That’s my experience.

Are you good at receiving direction? I have given perfectly good travel instructions and clear directions to family members and I knew at the time that they weren’t getting it. My wife and I are very different direction receivers. I’m visual and she is linear; I can picture movement and she can follow the steps. Both ways can work.


In western Oklahoma you can say, “Go down to the intersection, drive a half mile west, then go three miles north. You’ll see a big-ole, green mailbox. Turn back east and it’s about a quarter mile up the dirt road.” And that works, if the person knows their directions — north from south.

If you’re in Apache, Oklahoma you know that 13 miles west and 14 miles north is Carnegie. Growing up I gained orientation to travel by asking, “How many miles is it?” I could figure my travel time by number of miles. But that changed once I became a ‘city-guy’. I’ve traded reference to miles for reference to minutes. It takes me a little less than 20 minutes to get downtown. I’m not sure how many miles it is.  

How about directions according to landmarks ? — “…just past the railroad track, towards the grain elevator” — I can tell you how this Oklahoma kid learned street names and addresses in places like New York and Los Angeles. I can also tell you about a French guy, Pierre L’Enfant, and how he laid out Washington D.C. with road names based the number of blocks away from the Capitol.  It’s a pretty good story, but I’ll move on.

The next generation will tell stories about the first GPS devices. I’m certain that future gizmos and guidance systems will make our current interactive maps seem primitive.

God Directions

About 30 years ago I became obsessed with knowing God’s direction for my life. I was young and I was searching.  I prayed, “God, if you’re there, please tell me what to do with my life.” There were books, sermons, and Bible studies to help me know God’s will. It all seemed mystical and always obscure. Getting clear direction from God was confusing. I tried listening to different Christians and I heard a variety of formulas, revelations, and divinations.  How do I receive direction from God?

As I’ve learned to trust Him more, I have learned that is directions for me are quite clear. In a nutshell, I would say that receiving directions still depends on orientation. I can imagine God talking about me and saying, “Yes, he wanted to get directions, but he didn’t know north from south; the young man was asking for landmarks and signs. His real obstacle was (and is) that he wants My directions based on his bearing, his self-interest, and his orientation. Once he changes his basic orientation and position, receiving direction will be easy.”

How then am I to become properly oriented?

How does God speak today? His Word. Our Christian belief is based on what God says in the Bible. There is debate over which Scriptures are literal or symbolic. “Is that Bible story a historical fact or a figurative truth?”  Personally, I find that when I see Scripture as directional, that’s when God’s will becomes clear. If I am aware of the sun, I can determine east from west. We all learn to navigate by taking a cue from Copernicus. He made a great discover — the sun doesn’t move around the earth, the earth moves around the sun! 


 God doesn’t revolve around me, I am revolving around Him. What if I don’t believe that? Um, some didn’t believe Copernicus either.Just as Washington D.C. is oriented by the Capitol, I am best oriented by God’s Word. I realize that God has spoken. He declared His will and His way 2,000 years ago. I’ve grown content knowing that God’s direction for me, His will, is a changed me.

Through Jesus Christ and through the intercession of the Holy Spirit, I am becoming the person I am supposed to be. —– Take away sin, take away the self-centered, narcissistic, ego driven, unloving parts of me and what do we get? We get more Christ, and I can become the person I am supposed to be.“

And now, with the help of God, I shall become myself.” Soren Keirkegaard

As you and I learn to change our basic orientation from self to Jesus Christ, our inner GPS device (God Perspective & Sense) will guide us. Too much of the biblical interpretation of western Christianity asks, “What can I get out of this?” But the real purpose of reading the Bible is not to see ourselves, but to see Jesus. As one writer said, “we are not to take from the Word, but give oneself completely to it.”

Are you good at giving directions? A lot depends on the orientation of the person you’re giving directions to. That’s my experience.Are you good at receiving directions?

 The three wise men were —seeing the Light, leaving their own temporal kingdoms




One thought on “Know Your Directions”

  1. I love metaphors like “orientation, giving or receiving directions, orbit around – and not the other way around.” When I read thoughts like this, I also hear an orientation, not unlike a SONAR beacon, bouncing from God back to my spirit…correcting the path that becomes decayed, or off course.

Comments are closed.