The first thing my husband and I do when we’re in an unfamiliar place is start looking for a fixed point: a tower or monument or building that’s so big or noticeable it can be seen from everywhere.
We don’t like to explore glued to our maps and our phones, but we don’t like being lost, either. Having a fixed point prevents that. No matter where we go in our wanderings, we can look up and around and zero in on the spot we’ve chosen to figure out roughly where we are.
It’s been a big help. When I had to go wandering the streets of Rome at 10:30 p.m. to find a pharmacy for my husband, I made my way by the fixed point we’d settled on only a few days before. When we kept getting turned around in the center of Dublin, we reoriented ourselves in the same way. Lost? Uncertain? Wondering how to get back to the hotel before dark? Find the fixed point.
This is helpful for the soul, too.
Look, the Christian life is labyrinthine and full of complicated questions. I know full well what it’s like to start exploring a question or an idea and find yourself wandering the dark woods of the mind. When I was in my teens, that question often looked like this: what is God’s will for my life? Now that I’m adult, the questions are apt to take me anywhere. Here is a sampling:
Where’s the fine line between establishing healthy boundaries and not being selfish?
At what point do I need to sacrifice my introverted desires to accomplish something for God?
…why does the Bible just sort of never mention Joseph again? Why do we never know the fate of Jesus’ father?
Why in the world did God do/not do [x] in the Bible?
How exactly am I supposed to apply [insert Bible verse or passage] to this situation?
When it comes to [insert hotly contested topic of Christian debate here], what interpretation is the correct one?
These kinds of questions can devastate believers: sometimes because they have no clear answers, sometimes because they seem to have eight different possible answers, sometimes because they spawn a hundred more questions. It’s easy to get in the rarified air of hypothesizing and interpreting and analyzing: theologians and academics do it for fun, even. In the end, if we’re not careful, we can wind up combing Scripture for definitive answers to a series of minute, Byzantine questions, growing more and more frustrated and uncertain as time goes by. Before long, our unanswered questions or our desire to know for certain looms over all and blinds us to what we’re meant to be doing.
But having a fixed point changes that.
No matter where you are in the dark maze of your own mind, no matter how deep in trivial questions or confusions, you should be able to glance up and spy Christ out there on the horizon. And, like a sword, He cuts through to the heart of every matter, revealing what is relevant, and what is not.
What is God’s will for my life? Look at the fixed point, and you’ll realize that Christ is God’s will for you. Whatever you do, wherever you go, if you are seeking to be near Him and to serve Him, you are in the right place.
What’s the fine line between establishing healthy boundaries and not being selfish? At what point does me establishing boundaries interfere with what Christ put me here to do? That’s where the line is.
…why does the Bible never mention Joseph again? Don’t know, but then, that’s not terribly relevant except as a matter of thought and consideration. Christ is.
And so it goes. I am an over-analyzer at heart. I am always pondering on in my brain about something, and that holds as true about my faith as it does about everything else. But I recognize that in my thinkings and analyzings and wanderings, I run the risk of losing perspective – as we all do. Having a fixed point prevents that. It’s a lifeline back to what is necessary and true, and sometimes a stinging reminder of how much we get bogged down in things that have little relevance to our purpose here – even as those things are supposedly related to our spiritual walk!
So if you’re ever feeling lost in your wandering, or you’re adrift in a sea of questions and interpretations, lift your head and focus on the fixed point of Christ. Start from there. And what you can’t answer with Him isn’t that urgent of a question, anyway.