Suppose in stepping on to this beach, you are given two choices. Stay put to enjoy the scene or choose a boat and head off into the water? In this metaphor for guidance, if you get into a boat you then have further issues to resolve: which boat, where is the destination, how to get there, what supplies are needed and who to take with you (if anyone)? Your life will have been like this multiple times for big and small things. Sometimes you have a period of stability but other times, there is a need for a succession of choices as one thing leads to another. The story is told of a ship’s Captain who looked into the dark night and saw a light in the distance. Met by repeated refusals to alter course and give way, the impatient Captain sends a final signal: ‘Alter your course ten degrees south. I am a battleship.’ The reply was, ‘Alter your course ten degrees north. I am a lighthouse!’ Oh that it was always so easy to make a wise choice!
- ‘I don't have the strength or wisdom to get through a single day without guidance and grace from God’ – Tony Dungy
- ‘You know, many people have said that I'm on the edge and I'm maverick for some of the big operations that I've done. I'm not at all. I pray; I ask God to give me wisdom, 'Should I do it?', guidance in terms of how to do it, who to consult with. All those kind of things are incredibly important’ – Ben Carson
- ‘I pray for forgiveness. For help and guidance. To be a better person. For the health of my family. For the world to be a better place’ – Tyson Fury
- ‘A man's pride can be his downfall, and he needs to learn when to turn to others for support and guidance’ – Bear Grylls
‘Dermochelys Coriacea’ is the largest turtle weighing up to 700kg and as long as 2.2m. Known as the Leatherback sea turtle or simply ‘the Luth’, it is partial to jelly fish and will travel 10, 000 miles in a year at speeds of up to 10 kmph for food. It has extraordinary in-built navigation skills and will return to the original beach and same spot where it was born to mate and lay its own eggs. Why do we humans find life so complex in matters of guidance?!
- ‘For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers’ – Proverbs 11:14
- ‘Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance’ – Proverbs 1:5
- ‘By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night’ – Exodus 13:21
- ‘If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast’ – Psalm 139:9-10
- ‘He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way’ – Psalm 25:9
For safe night-time navigation, you need to remember the starboard green light is on your right whilst the port red light is on your left! Naming this way was because the rudder or ‘steerboard’ was on the right stern for right-handers, meaning that most people would moor up on the left which is therefore ‘port’. Before radar and sonar, it was also important to know the stars, have marine charts, know where the lighthouses are, be aware of the tidal changes and line up with compass to know your location. There are good parallels for Christians and here’s a simple mnemonic to help you line up your important navigation points: SPOBS! Where S=The Holy Spirit; P=Practicalities; O=Others’ advice; B=Bible; S=Signs. We are to use common-sense and spiritual-sense as prompted by God’s Word and Spirit through prayer. If a direction doesn’t feel right, it may not be so it’s best to slow right down, even stop and use reverse thrust if you are to avoid rocks.
- ‘The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail’ – Isaiah 58:11
- ‘He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake’ – Psalm 23:2-3
- ‘But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come’ – John 16:13
- ‘For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end’ – Psalm 48:14
- ‘Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory’ – Psalm 74:23-24
The Rock Dove, known also as the Homing Pigeon, has an innate homing ability and has been known to fly up to 1,100 miles at 60-100 mph in competitive pigeon racing. They were used for sending messages as far back as 3000 BC in Egypt and extensively by the 19th Century for military communications. Swifts cover 14,000 miles in migration, often returning to the same next with their homing instinct as do Swallows and Martins. The Christian also has a homing instinct as a citizen of heaven – this is the ultimate destination even if there are many sub-destinations on route! When you look back at where you’ve come from, navigation is always easier but you will often notice that you haven’t taken the shortest route. If there is a ‘golden rule’, it is to seek first the Kingdom of God and his glory in all you do. Before you choose which boat to get into, think through these things prayerfully, commit them to God, consider whether you need to alter course and then ‘according to your faith be it unto you’.
TAGS – purpose, kingdom, seek, calling, reason, mind, way