Ever feel like you have been following the directions you have received only to find you are lost? It takes only one subtle turn in the wrong direction, one overlooked sign, or one moment of inattentiveness to find yourself totally out of the path you are supposed to be following to reach your destination doesn't it? In retrospect, you can probably look back and recognize the point you should have turned, should have heeded the sign, or been paying closer attention to the journey than something else which captivated your attention at the moment. What happens next? You spend a whole lot of time getting back on course. Sometimes the best laid plans are not always going to work out as you planned simply because the one doing the "following" of the plan is a little inattentive, huh?
Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances. (Proverbs 11:14 MSG)
Our proverb this morning deals with good direction - wise counsel. Direction points us in some particular path, right? Thinking of a compass, you look at the little arrow on the dial to know which "direction" you are headed. Hopefully, you know the direction you are headed - or the arrow just points you in a direction without any particular aim. Direction suggests action. No one consults a compass just to get a general idea of where the arrows are pointing. You use a compass because you are about to make a move and you want to ensure you are on the right course. I am blessed to have one of these built right into my rear view mirror on my car. I can consult the mirror, seeing clearly I am headed south, southeast, or whatever direction the nose of my car is headed. Until the nose is completely aligned in a particular direction, causing the wheels to align the car along that course, the direction is not consistent, is it? Once I have "turned into" the direction, I am heading as the compass shows. As long as I am turning, the compass is adjusting to the direction I am turning.
Now, what does this have to do with our spiritual lives? Direction is determined by the compass we follow and the direction we point our hearts, minds, and eventually the activity of our bodies. Thinking of my car again, the engine is like the brain - it feeds the car with the energy to move forward. The heart of the car is really whoever is at the steering wheel - for the one doing the steering determines the ultimate direction of the car. No amount of energy exerted by the engine will get the "nose" of the car facing the right direction - it takes someone steering it to accomplish this. In turn, the wheels respond to both the one steering and the energies exerted by the engine - moving the car forward on the path or direction chosen. If God is the one determining the direction of our lives, he is at the steering wheel. He is the one determining what energies our mind should focus on and he is also the one determining the path our wheels should traverse.
Counsel is instruction given which actually helps to direct the judgment of another. Going back to my car again, I have a little device I plug into the dashboard called GPS. This handy little device can be programmed to get me to the destination in mind, guiding each and every turn I make. I can also do such things as tell it I need to find the nearest gas station, restaurant, etc. It gives me more than advice. It gives me specific suggestions to ensure I arrive at the destination I had in mind when I started the venture. Counsel is kind of like the GPS in your car. It helps you make wise judgment calls. Some GPS systems will even divert you around traffic congestion, accidents, etc. I think every car should be equipped with one of these devices - how about you?
In considering our spiritual life, our GPS is really the Holy Spirit. He gives us the counsel - things which lend good judgment to our turns and destination choices. God is at the steering wheel, driving the car - the Holy Spirit is acting as the compass. He helps to ensure the direction we are headed is actually made with the best judgment as possible. Now, I don't know about you, but I want to know I am both headed in the "right" direction and the most "beneficial" course. Getting to my destination spiritually can go through many twists and turns, but not all those twists and turns are going to be beneficial to my journey. The Holy Spirit guides me around those areas in my journey where I will encounter the "congestion" of unwanted "traffic" and the annoyances of "accidents" which do nothing more than cause unwanted delays.
Have you ever stopped to consider how much gas is wasted when you don't divert around an accident or traffic delay in your car? We think the highway will be the fastest course, most direct, etc. In actuality, the delays of taking this path may not make as much sense as having taken the surface streets. In contrast, we might actually save both time and energies (fuel) in getting to the destination. The Holy Spirit (acting as our GPS), helps to do both for us spiritually - getting us to our destination in the perfect timing and ensuring we are not totally "spent" in the journey. Trying to do it without GPS may be possible, but it is not very wise! Just sayin!