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Direction, Not Intention

I’ll never forget a trip my family and I took to Washington D.C. to attend the high school graduation of my wife’s little brother. As the parents of two daughters (then ages 4 and 2), and a 6 month old baby boy, I’m sure you can imagine just how difficult that road trip was for us. If it wasn’t for our children’s godmother (who came along with us), we would have certainly had to check into a psychiatric ward once we got back.

During this trip, I learned a few things about myself that I hope (after reading this) will help radically reshape the way you and I have long perceived the direction and path God may be leading us to follow.

My wife and I go absolutely nowhere without our GPS system. From locating the nearest restaurants and gas stations, to discovering what roads and highways serve as the best shortcuts, our GPS has been like a distant cousin to us both. So much so we gave it a name: Anne.

Although we had been to D.C. a few times before, navigating in and around the city has always been a daunting task. Not only are the multiple Beltway interstates (I-95, I-295, I-395 & I-66) a never ending maze, the number of two-way streets that turn into one-way roads will make your head spin. So needless to say, having Anne around with us on this trip was extremely vital.

On the morning we were set to return, I had the bright idea of stopping through downtown to take some pics of the family in front of a few monuments; been a big fan of them ever since I was a kid.

We packed up the car, fastened all the kids in their seats, and then took our favorite person in the whole wide world (Anne) out of the glove compartment. I turned her on, overwhelmed with joy to begin entering in the addresses for the monuments we wanted to visit before leaving town. But suddenly, my joy quickly turned into shock as Anne uttered these four very frightening words:

Unable To Locate Satellite.

This message from Anne was something (I’ll admit) I had seen once or twice before. It happens every time I would forget to charge her up over night. Without a full battery, Anne became useless. So being the revolutionary man that I am, I decided to take matters in my own hands, and tried to drive downtown without Anne’s assistance. (In my mind) I didn’t have the time to wait on Anne to charge back up; I wanted to get there by myself. I’m sure you can just imagine where this story is heading now, right?

It never ceases to amaze me how we as believers find it difficult to wait on the guidance and direction of God concerning our lives. Despite the fact that He has proven time after time that He will never lead us astray, many of us still seek to take the wheel of our lives in our own hands and navigate along certain paths that He may (in many circumstances) never intended for us to take.

This trip reminded me of a very valuable lesson I learned some time ago from a message by Pastor Andy Stanley. It serves as the underlining message of his recently released book, The Principle of The Path.

Here it is: Direction, Not Intention, Determines Destination.

No matter how much you and I intend on doing the right things in life, we need to assure that it is God who is directing and guiding our decisions, and not our individual pursuits and desires. More often than not, the paths many of us find ourselves on are driven by how we feel, and what we see, rather than the paths God may have for us, which are never bound or dependent on our senses.

Is there anything wrong with wanting a better job? Absolutely not. Is there anything wrong with wanting a bigger home, or nicer car? Again, not at all.

And yes, I realize the timetable you set for getting married has come and passed, but before you try to grab the wheel and make something happen, allow these words to redirect you as they did for me this weekend: Direction, Not Intention, Determines Destination.

If you’re heading down the wrong direction, it doesn’t matter what destination you intend on reaching, you will never get there (no matter how hard you try or how hard you pray). God’s laws of guidance do not bend towards us. We bend towards them.

Funny thing happened once we finally got downtown to visit one of the monuments (a 45 minute trip that on any other day would have taken less than 10). As soon as I parked the car, Anne (our GPS device) found the satellite and prompted us to enter in our directions.

God is quite the comedian, isn’t He? Gotta love Him.

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Milan Ford has been a leader and a survivor of ministry within the local church for most of his life. A lover of Red Vines Licorice and all things pointing North, Milan is the author of 83 Things I Wish The Black Church Would Stop Doing, and is now currently preparing to release his second book, I Still Love Those Fries, the fall of 2011. Milan and his wife Imani are the proud parents of three children: Kayla, Aliyah, and Ethan.