Mirror and Map

How do we keep going so we keep growing? We want to go on; we want to get “there.” We want to see our faith become love; we want to supplement our faith however we must. We want to keep growing. So how do we keep going so we keep growing?

Because there’s a point—mile 20, let’s say—when we think, “I can’t go on.” But it’s at that point that, if we will keep going, we’ll grow big-time. It’s at that point that the real gains begin. All the mapping and marching was just to get to This Now.

This is where shortcuts become really appealing. We begin to prefer tips’n’tricks at this point—oh, just hang a tapestry embroidered with Scripture… just set an app-reminder to pray… just start a study group… just just just.

But the map doesn't lie. It's a long journey. There are no shortcuts. There are detours. We can get lost. But we cannot escape The Way.

So how do we keep going? If getting lost and detoured doesn't sound appealing, what should we do? We need to reverse what Peter describes in 2 Peter 1:9, “Whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.” So then, whoever possesses these qualities remembers, and so is able to see. Whoever sees, remembers, and so is diligent to pursue these qualities.

Sight is what is necessary to keep going and growing.

When you’re on a journey, you do not want to get lost. What is lost? “I don’t know where I am. I don’t know how I got here. I don’t know how to get there.” Map reading is remembering: “We were here, and then here, and then I remember this, and we just crossed that, and there’s that thing…” It’s remembering and then seeing.

How do we keep going so we keep growing? Sight is what is necessary to keep going and growing.

So, first, see with a mirror. See yourself in the frame of what’s behind you: you in your story. Remember the Gospel story as your story. That’s what Peter means by emphasizing “having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.” Not just sins, but my sins. “This is where I was, and then here, and then that…” I was a sinner; I am a sinner saved by grace. I was a child of wrath, now I’m a child of God. I was full of death and taxes, not I have the Spirit of the Living God. I was alone in the howling waste, now I’m welcomed with the saints. I knew starving poverty and now I know a glorious inheritance. This is my story.

This is what Peter is doing in vv. 3-4. He is remembering the Gospel, looking at himself and where he’s been.
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness,
Through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence
By which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises
So that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature,
Having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desires.”

See the Gospel in your life; make this your story, your narrative: “this is my story, this is my song….”

Second, see with a map. Maps are most important not for telling us where we’ve been, but for getting us where we’re going.Use your Gospel-story like a map. “Remember it,” sounds dry and academic. So don’t bother with “remembering” anything, just use it so often that it’s the fabric of your spirit. Your life-goggles. Your C-PAP machine. Put it on and see. Hook it up and breathe. Use it to guide your decisions and your values. Let it make all the difference when you arrive at a fork in the path. Use it to speak back to your fatigue or heartbreak. Let it counsel your grief and argue with your doubts. Use it to reshape your values, your investments, your priorities, and how these things appear in your life. Use the narrative.

None of us have forgotten how to hold a fork, because we use it all the time. We never think, “Oh! That’s how I hold a fork! That’s right!” But if you haven’t ridden a bike for five months, there’s a few-second wiggling, isn’t there? And if you haven’t made that old favorite recipe in years, you have to pull out the card.

Use the Gospel. Our narrative shapes our lives. Our identity drives our vocation. Our story becomes our song.

So keep your eyes open. Don’t get lost: “so nearsighted that we’re blind.” All the woods look the same. This tree. Or was it that tree? The path turns ahead, it turned behind too. Who am I now? What am I to do? Why am I here? How did I get here?

Your story shapes your life. Your story? You were blind but now you see. You were filthy but now you’re clean. You were lost but now you’re found. Live found. Live on the map.

This is what the Sabbath day and all the feasts and festivals of the Old Testament were designed to do: to locate Israel in their story. The rituals retold their journey from slavery to freedom, from outsider to child-of. The Sabbath, the worship, the community, called them back to their identity.

What rituals of identity do we have? Checking our phones. Exercising. Shopping. The Christian life cannot be reduced to a few rituals, but it cannot be sustained without them.

Are you lost? Look in the mirror, live on the Map, remember. Keep your eyes open. We will not “lack these qualities” if we remember what “His divine power has granted us…”

To Consider and Discuss:

What are some examples you have seen, or experienced, of someone getting spiritually lost?

Imagine someone asked you why you are a Christian. How would you tell your story and the Gospel story at the same time?

How does telling that story help reorient you in some of the things your struggling with today?

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash