Keith Wishum: Going the right way

Published 11:00 am Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Dave was going the wrong way. But, he didn’t know it. He was making great time and was enjoying himself, and he was sure he was headed the right way. On the Appalachian Trail, hiking to a place called Peck’s Corner, Dave rounded a corner and found five men resting on a boulder by the trail. There was the inevitable, “Where are you headed?”
When Dave answered, “Peck’s Corner,” the conversation stalled.
“Peck’s Corner is the other way,” one of the five finally said. “That’s where we’re going.”
“No, no, it’s this way,” insisted Dave, pointing up the trail ahead of him.
In unison, five heads shook in disagreement. Five to one said Dave was wrong, but he still wasn’t convinced. Until he finally consulted his compass.
That settled it. The compass made it clear. Dave was going in the wrong direction. He spat out an expletive, then repeated it several times. He had been hiking for hours, going uphill, moving steadily away from where he needed to be.
In Dave’s defense, he had fallen earlier that day and got up dazed and disoriented and started walking. Certain that he was still going the right direction, he hadn’t bothered to consult his compass. That was a costly mistake.
Direction, not desire, determines destination. It doesn’t matter where we want to go. It’s our direction that determines the destination we reach. That’s true, not just of hiking trails, but also of life’s travels. And we all do what Dave did and get confused about our direction.
That should teach us humility. It should prompt us to frequently recheck our direction. But we forget. And we hurry along our paths without questioning our course. That would be a mistake.
It is a powerful temptation for us to assume that we’ll be safely guided by the way we were raised, what “everyone” does, by what we’ve always heard, or by how we feel in our hearts, or even by what the preacher says. None of those are reliable guides, however.
Jesus claims that he is “the way” (John 14:6). It is by his words that we will be judged (John 12:48). That’s our compass. We need to check it often so we can avoid Dave’s dilemma of making good time, but moving in the wrong direction.
Have you checked lately? Are you walking in Jesus’ direction? If not, it’s time to turn around.

Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church of Christ, Americus.