How Good is Your Sense of Direction?

Photo by Antony Freitas on Unsplash

Are you one of those people who innately knows where you are, or are you one of those who can’t find your way out of a paper bag?

“What do I need a sense of direction for? I’ve got GPS!”

Believe it or not, there are people who like getting around without GPS. Or a map. Or a wife who said you should’ve turned left two states back. It’s a hobby for them. Even a sport. It’s called orienteering.

I learned about orienteering as a Boy Scout. I had to master a compass, learn about declination, determine distances, and find my way out of a paper bag. (I did.)

Some people don’t think they could do this. “I’ve got no sense of direction.” If you’re not that person, you’re probably married to one. My wife and I have more than one “spirited discussion” about the right way to go—even with GPS. “I know it says north, but it feels like we’re going south.” Please don’t think I’m picking on my wife. We’ve had occasions where the roles were reversed—and she gloated just as much as I did when I’m proven right.

The BBC reports that you can actually improve your sense of direction.

“Along with knowing which direction you’re facing and the direction of your destination, being able to identify permanent landmarks is implicated in good navigation. This ability to recognise stable landmarks has been linked to activity in the retrosplenial cortex, which forms part of the wrinkly outer layer of the brain….

“People can train themselves to better notice environmental cues like the wind, Sun and slopes, whether they’re in rural or urban settings…. Pursuits like sailing and scouting can help.”

We think this is unnecessary in our day of GPS, but I still find those moments when I really do know better than a satellite. And phone batteries don’t always stay charged. So, yeah, a good sense of direction is still helpful.

Let’s step out of the car for a moment and into life. We may rely on GPS to lead us to a Chick-fil-A in a new town, but when navigating life in general, we pretty much rely on our own sense of direction. And we’re not very good at it.

“There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death” (Prov. 16:25).

Our own sense of direction—what’s right or wrong—is skewed. Even when deciding between what’s good and what’s best, our inner compass is unreliable. But God doesn’t leave us alone to try to find our way. He has given us His Word as a guide. A map.

“Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path” (Ps. 119:105).

Photo by Thom Holmes on Unsplash

What makes for a good orienteer? Practice. Those who do this as a sport—racing between two points with nothing more than a topographical map and a compass—put in a lot of practice navigating. And as with any sport (or playing the tuba), practice develops the skills and good spatial memory. It’s the same for seeking God’s guidance. Practice. Daily practice. I must daily read His Word for direction. I read His Word and can be heading in the right direction, but unless I keep focusing on the truth and guidance of Scripture, I can—and will—gradually veer off course. So, orienteering myself to God’s Word is a daily thing.

Develop your sense of direction by seeking the help and guidance of the One who wants to see you safely home.

“You are my shelter and my shield; I put my hope in your word” (v. 114).

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