Turn Signals

Recently as I was driving on the highway, I was reminded of the significance and importance of using turn signals and the fact that some people have forgotten about this factory installed feature on their vehicle. Turn signals provide a means of communication to let other drivers around you know where you are going so that they can act appropriately. 

My last blog entry (click here if you missed it) indicated that I was closing off my time in Nehemiah, but I was inspired one last time by his words and I wanted to share one last thought. 

For twelve years Nehemiah used his God given gifts of leadership and discernment to bring honor and glory back to a nation of people that God had chosen as his own, to bring honor and glory to the great and awesome God that he served. During his time as governor of Jerusalem Nehemiah never led the people without a signal of what direction he was going. All the rebuilding, the prayer, the scripture reading, the teaching, the love and compassion were signals that were used to help bring the people back into a right relationship with God. 

Through opposition by other leaders, corruption in his own ranks, and amid intimidation and offerings of bribes Nehemiah never lost sight of the direction he has heading. He may have had to signal around these obstacles but always stayed on course making sure that everyone knew where he was leading them to go.

This made me think about the signals that we may or may not use that other people see, indicating the direction that we are headed in our own relationships with God. While some of these things are personal and remain between God and us, there are some that are obvious indicators that provide opportunity for others to see and follow. 

What are these signals? What will people recognize in our lives that set us apart from the rest of the world? Well, after reading Nehemiah I would say the number one signal that others can see is humility.

First, Nehemiah did nothing for his own personal gain or recognition. His motivation was to serve God first, then the people of Jerusalem. Living humbly and serving God and others before ourselves seems counter-cultural in our world today. When we live a life outside the bounds of cultural norms, we signal to others that we are different and that opens opportunities to share the answers of why.

Second, Nehemiah showed incredible compassion and generosity to the people. He did more than just listen to the needs of the community around him. As governor he put into motion a plan that levelled the playing field in respect to social and economic injustice. He gave generously from his own wages so that other could benefit. When we serve and give freely to those in need, we signal to those who are watching that other people matter to us. 

Third, Nehemiah was dedicated to the reading of the word of God and prayer. Our lives should reflect the same. We have an incredible opportunity to show the people around us who our God is and how much he loves them. Prayerfully reading and studying the word of God will inspire us, motivates us, and show us that our God can and will use us to be a signal of hope for those in the world. 

True North

Most people are familiar with the designations of north, south, east, and west that are represented on a compass, but did you know a compass doesn’t point to true north? True north is where the lines of longitude converge in the geographic north pole. A compass (depending on where you are on the earth) locates the magnetic north which is approximately 500 kilometers away from the geographic North Pole. A compass works by magnetic force and can be affected by a variety of different factors, weather, other magnetic forces, and metal objects. 

What is your compass in life? Where is true north for you? 

This past week as I was reading scripture, I asked myself these same questions. 2 Timothy chapter 3, and particularly verses 16 and 17 inspired me to look and think about how God’s word to us is like a compass, but one that points to true north. These verses read, All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

As followers of Christ, the Bible should be the compass or guide that we follow in life and faith. Paul, in his second letter to Timothy gives some instruction on how scripture (our compass) functions. First, he establishes the direction we receive comes directly from God himself, speaking to its authenticity and usefulness. Following this foundational truth Paul breaks down some of its usefulness for us. Teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness; while each one of these tasks is important, correcting was one that resonated with my thoughts of direction and being on a pathway to our true north destination. 

All of scripture points us in one direction. Think about all that happens in scripture, both in the Old and New testaments. Imagine for a moment that all of scripture, the many events that take place are the longitudinal lines on a map, they all converge in one place, at the foot of the cross with Christ and ultimately with our father in heaven. 

Like finding the point of convergence of true geographic north with a compass, our life and faith will need some course correction along the way. Often when we read these verses in 2 Timothy we have an outward focus, we use scripture to teach, rebuke or correct others. What if we applied the charge of correcting to our own life? There are forces at play in life that can easily pull us in directions that keep us from reaching our final destination of true north. 

Course correction is common in any form of navigation so why wouldn’t it be important for our life and faith today? While wrong turns in life are sometimes difficult, they are some of the best times in life that help us correct our course of direction.

We have been given the words of scripture to be our compass in life and faith, we have also been given a guide. As we stand at the foot of the cross and live a life that honors Christ, he equips us with the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit. The word of God (our compass) and the Holy Spirit (our guide) work together to help us reach our true north destination. As we apply the word of God to our lives and listen for his voice for direction in life there is no greater power that can knock us off course.