I saw the following video today, sent to me through a daily email I get from the All Pro Dad organization:
The video itself is a little humorous, in that it would be interesting to watch some of the experiments take place. It sparks an interest in me to try it for myself. I’ve read numerous stories of people who were lost in the wilderness walking in circles in desperate attempts to find their way out. It gives some truth to the common theme among people who’ve been lost before when they say, “after a while it all looked the same, like we’d been there before.” Chances are, they had indeed “been there before”, as they walked in circles around the same spot.
What immediately came to mind, though, was that the video’s description is so true. “Try as you might, you can’t walk in a straight line without a visible guide point, like the Sun or a star. You might think you’re walking straight, but as NPR’s Robert Krulwich reports, a map of your route would reveal you are doomed to walk in circles.” How true that is in every aspect of our lives…without a visual reference to keep us on point, we’re “doomed to walk in circles.” You can take that two-sentence description and apply it to every aspect of your life. Without a reference point, we are doomed to make the same mistakes…to veer from the straight path…to walk in circles…to end up right back where we started.
In the example of physically walking in a straight line, the studies show us that we need a visual reference point…something consistent and solid to stay focused on as we walk. It could be anything. A tree. A mountain. A star. The sun. Anything that is not also moving. Without it, we’re “domed to walk in circles.” The question then remains…in life, what can be used as a reference or guide to keep me from walking in circles”?
Let’s look at some possible answers to that question:
1. As children, you’re first point of reference is me and your mother. We have the most influence on your life right now. We are teaching you how to navigate the household and exist as part of a family and society. We’re teaching you how to talk to each other and to us…how to treat each other during play time…how to help with chores around the house…how to pray…how to read and write…how to add and subtract…how to brush your teeth…how to clean your rooms…how to get dressed…how to love one another….how to love God. At this stage in your life, you have no choice but to look to us as your guide. It’s our job to teach you what you need to know to survive when you grow up and leave us. I’ve got news for you, though. We WILL fail you. We WILL disappoint you. We WILL hurt you. We WILL embarrass you. We WILL make mistakes. We WILL fall short of your expectations. Why? Certainly not on purpose or because we want to. It’s just that we’re not perfect. In our own imperfection, we are not who or what you need to use as your guide point. So, if we as your parents are not the answer…
2. Your friends must be. Right? My parents used to ask me all the time, “if your friends jumped off a bridge, would you follow them?” Not a question they came up with on their own, as it’s been asked of children for generations. But it raises a good point. If your friends do something, does that make it right or okay? Nope. And, I know you know that in your heart already. You don’t need me to drill this one home, because by the time you’re old enough to read this, you’re smart enough to see examples of this in your own lives. Now, I know that when you’re teenagers, you will naturally move from thinking that mom and dad are smart and know the answers to everything into thinking that we’re idiots who have no clue what you’re going through. You’ll want to start looking to your friends as you start looking for yourselves…searching for you who you want to be. I know, though, that you can look back over your lives, especially those teen years, and see examples of how you followed the crowd to your detriment. So it’s not your parents or your friends…
3. It must be celebrities on television or in sports. Right? Haha. Okay, I’ll keep this one short. Go down to the local grocery store. Go the checkout lane. Open one of those celebrity magazines. Read the first article. Better yet, you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your home. You can turn on the television or get on the computer and go to any station or page that specializes in celebrity news. Enough said…
4. It must be our spiritual leaders then. Right? Well, that’s a good place to look. The example our Pastors set for us are worthy of our respect and praise. Our Pastor has a much more extensive knowledge God’s Word and how to apply it than I ever will. He can offer you advice on any subject under the sun. He’s seen it all. And he knows where to go in God’s Word to find you some encouragement. He’ll be first to tell you, though, that he’s not the answer. Why? He’s not perfect. He’s only human.
And therein lies your answer. No human is perfect. We ALL make mistakes. If you set your eyes upon any human as your guide through life, you will wander from the path and walk in circles. God. God alone is our guide…our visual point of reference to keep us on the path of righteousness. Every answer to every question or dilemma you will ever face can be found in God’s Word. God’s Word is the infallible, inerrant truth. Stay close to God to stay on the path. How, you ask? Three steps:
2. Study God’s Word.
No words I can say about this will be more compelling than God’s own words:
Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. – Proverbs 4:25-26
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. – Matthew 7:13-14
Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me. – Psalm 31:3
Remember that I love you, and that God loves you. In all our love, we’re human. God alone is perfect. Look to Jesus Christ as your example. Follow the path He has set out before you, and you will succeed in life…and in death. As Phil Wickham’s song says it best, “You Will Be Safe In His Arms.”