If anyone becomes disoriented in the wilderness it’s important to regain your orientation. The map and compass in your hand is of no benefit if you can’t figure out where you are.
I’ve been in this unhappy circumstance. It was in the middle of winter in the Adirondacks and proved to be one of the more frightening experiences of my life! I had both a compass and topographical map but, seeing my destination in the distance, I’d gotten lazy and stuffed map and compass back in my pack thinking they were no longer needed. I was wrong. After slugging through thick fir woods, heavy with snow, I’d become disoriented, and when I emerged I couldn’t figure out where I was or in which direction our camp lie. It wasn’t until I was finally able to reorient myself according to my surroundings and locate my position on the topo map that I could safely progress towards my destination.
The same principle holds true in life; we find ourselves in a rut, wandering about without any clear destination. If we are to find our way out of the aimless morass we need to recover our orientation. As I discovered when I was wandering about in the snowy Adirondacks, we need dependable reference points to accurately find our place in the world. In the broad panorama of life, there are three such reference points that can be used to help us triangulate our position: story, desire, and journey. I’ll speak to story here and pick up in later posts with desire and journey.
It’s vitally important that each of us understands that we have been given a specific role in God’s unfolding story. A role only we can fulfill. And there are no trivial roles! As Gary Barkalow shares in his excellent book, It’s Your Call, this truth is delightfully conveyed in a classic Mother Goose rhyme: For want of a nail The shoe was lost, For want of a shoe The horse was lost, For want of a horse The rider was lost, For want of a rider The battle was lost, For want of a battle The kingdom was lost, And all for the want Of a horse shoe nail.
As this simple rhyme illustrates, nothing in life is without purpose in His story. Nothing is truly ordinary or mundane—although it may seem that way to us! From a personal perspective this means that you have been given a specific role in God’s great plan. Your heavenly Father has no intention of having his precious sons and daughters sit on the sidelines wondering if they have a part to play to the glory of God and the good of others—including themselves! Your life has a storyline to it. One that, despite wounds inflicted on you by others (and by you upon others) is being transformed and redeemed by God and is part of his larger story for all humanity.
The theme of God’s great story is one of overcoming and becoming: becoming who we were created to be and overcoming the forces arrayed against us, the enemies we must conquer on our journey of becoming. As Gary Barkalow puts it, “We must live as if we are in a battle with very high stakes; this is our story.” Or as related by Nikolai Berdyaev, “Living the good life is frequently dull, flat and commonplace. Our greatest need is to make life fiery, creative and capable of spiritual struggle.”