The coming of the new year always seems to bring with it a sobering jolt of reality. The weighty nature of time. The reminder that we are headed somewhere at a speed that we cannot control.
One of the foundational aspects of being human is that we are teleological in our very nature. That is, we are goal oriented. Our hearts are wired to be “going somewhere” at all times. This idea becomes much more clear as we get older and the years seem to tick by at an increasingly faster rate. This is why we hit a mid life crisis. We suddenly realize that we may not be going where we thought we were going. Our hearts are wired like a compass, always pointing to that which we desire most in life¹.
It’s overwhelming to see how quickly the time flies by and how many opportunities I could be missing around me. How do I know that I am using my time properly? How do I know that this particular life that I am choosing is going to be worthwhile and satisfying? And yet, the true question is not, “Am I making all the right decisions at every turn in the road?”. The true question is, “Am I using the right compass to navigate the journey?” What is the “true north” that my heart is set on? Inevitably, that is the direction I will end up moving in, regardless of the particular decisions on the particular forks in the road.
What is our “true north”? What captivates your heart? What do you long for? Are you sure that this exact thing is worthy of all your affections and pursuits? How is it that you came upon this particular compass? Who gave it to you?
One of the biggest mistakes that we make is that we obsess and stress over choosing every correct street and intersection turn in life. We forget to consider the fact that we don’t even know where we are going in the long run. We miss the forest for the trees. We feel the weight of daily and weekly decisions. But we forget to take a step back and think about are true direction.
As I have been thinking about this over the past week, it has caused me to reflect on my own path. What is my true north? Jesus of Nazareth. A man who walked the dusty plains of Palestine some 2000 years ago. He came to tell us things that we did not want to hear. He came to point to the elephant in the room, the obvious facts of our existence.
There is a God. All the world around us tells continually of his wonder, wisdom and beauty. Look around. Look in the mirror. All this did not come from nothing. All this came from power, from wisdom, from love, from personality.
The world is beautiful, yet it is broken. We are beautiful, yet we are broken. We live in the world that we did not make, and we live as though we own it all. This is the greatest possible insult to the One who made us and loved us from the beginning. No matter how we turn it, we have blood on our hands. The brokenness of this world traces back to the brokenness of our hearts.
We are utterly powerless to fix it. Every endeavor to do so is yet another statement of our attempted independence and autonomy. We need help. We need help from the outside, help that this world cannot give.
Jesus is that help. He is has entered the world, though he himself made this world. He is the ultimate expression of the love and mercy of God. He has come to enter our brokenness. To touch it. To mend it. To lead us out of it. He restores justice by stepping into the line of fire in our place. He restores us to the love of our Maker and leads us in a life of constant renewal.
Jesus has captivated my whole being. Hungers, desires, intellect and will. I am convinced down to my bones that this is the True North, not just of my little world, but of the whole world. My progress is far from perfect. My heart still gets confused at the intersections at times. And yet his love compels me to find my way back every time. As the years tick by, there is true renewal that I see taking place. The focus becomes more clear. The grey and the black fades little by little and the light and beauty shines through more and more clearly. The world is indeed beautiful and he is making all things new.
What is your true north? Where is your heart headed? To what do your loves aspire?
- I first encountered this particular analogy in Smith, James K. A.. You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit (Kindle Location 244). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.