Spiritual Orienteering

Navigating life in the 21st century can be a complex and confusing game. Crucial decisions must be made as to which direction to take, and often the pace of the race leaves little time to stop and look at the map. The sport of orienteering began in Sweden about a hundred years ago. Orienteering involves navigating, against the clock, on a long cross-country trail, checking in at various points along the way. You need a map and compass to compete, and a lot of stamina. Getting lost is common, and sometimes whistles are carried just in case you need to alert searchers. To me, that sounds like life in a nutshell.

Do you have a map and a compass to help you on the course? The map reveals to you the terrain in which you are moving, while the compass gives you a constant point of reference. In Acts 8, Philip the deacon meets an Ethiopian in a chariot struggling with his map. He has it folded out to the book of Isaiah, but doesn’t know how to proceed. Using the map, Philip gives him a sight-line directly to Jesus the Messiah (Acts 8:35). The Bible doesn’t say, but Philip probably helped him fold it up so it would fit in the glove compartment too.

In Mark 12:1-12, Jesus shows the chief priests exactly where they are on the map, and how far off course they are, in a parable about a rented vineyard and its wicked tenants. Jesus sums up His story by forcing them to look back at the map – “. . . have you not even read this Scripture? ‘The stone the builders rejected became the chief cornerstone.’” If they had known how to properly read their map, they would not have become so lost.

If the scriptures can be thought of as our map, then surely our compass is a heart and mind attuned to God’s will. A compass needle naturally aligns itself with magnetic North because it is itself magnetised. When your first instinct is to say, “what would God have me do?” that’s a good sign that your needle is giving you a true bearing. Christ was so perfectly attuned to “God’s North” that even in the face of the cross He could say without hesitation or regret: “not My will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

So, map in hand and compass in heart, let us all run with stamina “the race set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the starter and finisher of faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Copyright © 2008 by Dr Terry Boyle. All rights reserved worldwide.

Posted in Christian Living, God's Will and tagged , , , .

Dr Terry Boyle serves as Pastor for Insight for Living UK. His ministry involves teaching a weekend radio programme, hosting the weekday Insight for Living broadcast, helping with issues that come in from listeners, and providing a personal and local approach to Chuck Swindoll’s ministry.

Terry was born in Windsor, England. He moved to the United States in 1981. Although he began his professional life as a biochemist, Terry holds a Th.M. in Pastoral Ministry and a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas.

Terry served as senior pastor of Skillman Bible Church in Dallas until he and his family moved back to the UK in 2007, to take on the role of pastor for Insight for Living United Kingdom.

Terry and his wife Rose Ann have been married for twenty seven years, and they have three grown children: Hannah, Emily, and Terence.