Directions and the Big Picture

I'm a guy, so I rarely ask for directions. Thanks to GPS technology, I can search for directions in the privacy of my own home where nobody will ever see and I won't have to forfeit my Man Card. It's also why I'm glad I live in Texas where land is flat and there are no trees: I can generally find my bearings wherever I am. My little brother lives in South Carolina and it makes me really nervous to drive there because I can't ever tell where in the world I am. 

In "How People Change" by Timothy Lane and Paul David Tripp, the authors use a great illustration to show how asking for directions can sometimes be a bad thing. 

Let's imagine that you and I are on the corner of a typical big city street. We have a specific place we need to go, but no idea how to reach it. We need directions! Let's say that as we're deciding what to do, a native of the city asks if we need help. This person gives us very precise directions that take us from where we are standing to where we need to go. Has she totally solved our problem? Not really. If we deviate from her instructions in the slightest, we will be lost again, because we still don't know the city. We really need what this woman has: an overall, "helicopter" view of the city. In her mind, she can see how every neighborhood connects with the others and how all the streets intersect. She has such a complete, big picture view of the city in her mind that it is virtually impossible for her to get lost. If she could have downloaded that big picture to us, we would not only get to our destination, but we would never get lost in that city again!

One of the mistakes we make in handling God's Word is that we reduce it to a set of directions on how to live. We look for directions about relationships, church life, sex, finances, marriage, happiness, parenting, and so on. We mistakenly think that if we have clear directions we will be all right. But we keep getting lost! All the wise and precise directions given to us in Scripture haven't kept us from getting lost in the middle of our personal "big city.""

The point to Lane and Tripp's book is that the Gospel provides the overall perspective. Without it, we're doomed to get lost in our journey. But with the knowledge of the Gospel always on our mind, we have all the direction we need.