FIRST-PERSON: Heading in the right direction
HARTFORD, Conn. (BP) -- The other day I was going to visit a friend who was interested in becoming involved in ministry. He gave me the address where I was to meet him, but when I arrived, I could not find the street number.
There were buildings with the number right below it and right above it, but that street number was missing. After driving up and down the road a couple of times, I called him on his cell. Turns out that I had gone to Stevens Street, when I was actually looking for Stephens Street. The streets are pronounced the same way but have a slightly different spelling and are on opposite sides of town.
I would have never found him at the first address because that address does not exist. We had a good laugh about it when I finally got to the right place. What a difference those couple of letters made.
That experience has made me think about how important it is to make sure we get our facts right before striking off on some task, journey or line of thought. If we have a faulty premise, it will lead us in the wrong direction and we may never find what we are looking for. Even if the mistake is subtle and sounds right (such as Stevens and Stephens), if it is a wrong direction, then it will lead us to frustration and may make us miss out on something special.
Examples are numerous:
-- When considering marriage, if we start out thinking, "If this does not work out, we can always get a divorce," that will impact how we handle conflict in marriage. Such thinking leads to a much different place than, "If this does not work out like we want it to, we are going to stick with it anyway and trust God to make it right."
-- When thinking about what college to go to, if we start out thinking, "Which school has the best recreational activities and coolest student groups?" we will end up in a much different place than if we ask, "Which school will best help me gain the training I need to achieve my career goal?"
-- When struggling to think through a problem, if we start out thinking, "I do not like how this issue makes me feel, so I am going to ignore it," we will most likely never overcome the issue. But if we start with, "I do not like how this issue makes me feel, so I am going to find a way to overcome this issue," then we will eventually get to a place where the issue will no longer hinder us.
We could go on and on sharing examples, but I think the point is clear. We need to start off with right information and thinking so we can head the right way in life in order to end up in the place we are supposed to be.
How do we find the right info? Do some research. Talk to people who have already been there. Ask lots of questions. Pray and read the Bible for guidance. Yes, prayer still works. Yes, the Bible is still relevant for today.
Much wisdom can be found through prayer and Bible study. The psalmist David reminds us, "The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation" (Psalm 33:11).
If we follow God's guidance, we're less likely to find ourselves on the wrong street with a similar name. Instead, we'll be heading in the right direction.
Terry Dorsett is a church planting catalyst with the North American Mission Board based in Hartford, Conn., and the author of several books including "Mission Possible: Reaching the Next Generation through the Small Church." Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).