What do you do when you realize there’s a gap between where you are in life and where you want to be?
- How do you typically respond when you discover you’re lost while driving or traveling?
- Have you ever felt a disconnect between what you intended to achieve and the choices you actually made? Explain.
- Do you agree that direction always trumps intention? Why or why not?
- Andy mentioned that fun is always in the rearview mirror, but satisfaction is a traveling companion. What makes it difficult to prioritize satisfaction over fun?
- Are you currently living in the direction of the destination you desire? If not, what steps could you take to change direction?
NOTE: The following content is a raw transcript and has not been edited for grammar, punctuation, or word usage.
As we get started today, I would like to share with you four things regarding what I call the art of lostness, okay? This is something where I’ve gained a bit of expertise. Number one, people like me, we don’t get lost on purpose. In fact, it is difficult to get lost on purpose. Number two, we talked about this last week a little bit, we’re lost before we know that we’re lost, we don’t know exactly when it happened. If you know exactly when it happened, you can just back up and be unlost, but we’re lost a long time before it even dawns on us. “Huh. I think we’re lost”.
And then number three won’t come as a shock, but I need to say it, men go faster when we’re lost. [laughter] And there is no explanation for this at all. And then number four, and this is true for all of us, we wind up where the road we’re on ends up. You always wind up where the road you’re on ends up. This is regardless of creed, color, gender, IQ, net worth, this is just true for everybody. Now, as we began the discussion last week, we said that what’s obvious when it comes to driving often times is not as obvious when it comes to living. That what’s obvious when it comes to driving is not always obvious when it comes to living. But just like physical paths and physical highways and physical roads have predictable outcomes, there are predictable outcomes in just about every single arena of life, and thus the title for this series, “The beginner’s guide to predicting your own future.”
But as we continue this conversation, last week I introduced you to a principle that’s gonna govern our conversation. It kinda makes sense out of all of this, and that we call it the Principle of the Path, and the Principal of the Path, if you were here last time, simply says that direction determines our destination, that direction determines destination. And this is true not just geographically, this is true in all the “allys”. This is true financially, and professionally, and relationally, and morally, and spiritually, and I made this one up, marriagally, [laughter] and I was gonna add in parenting-ally, that in all the “allys”, that there this principle holds true, that the direction you’re moving in in your relationship, the direction you’re moving in financially, the direction you’re moving in as a parent, the direction that you’re moving your marriage in, academically, whatever it might be, in every area of life, the direction you’re moving in ultimately determines your destination.
Now, to take this a little bit further, if I were to sit down and ask you, “Hey, what… “, and I’ll just pick one of these, “What do you hope your financial world looks like in say, two years, or five years from now?” You’d probably have an answer, “I intend to make this much money, I intend to save this much money. I intend to get out of debt.” If I were to say, “Hey, what of professionally? What do you hope things… How do you think things will be, or how do you hope things will be professionally, two or five years from now?” And you’d say, “Well, by this time next year, five years from now, 10 years now, I hope to have my own company,” whatever it might be. Relationally, you’ve been dating this girl, you’ve been dating this guy for a long time. Two years from now, what do you see? You say, “Well, I see marriage in the mix,” or, “I’m not so sure.” So if I were to ask you about any of these things, what you intend, how you intend for life to go in just about any of these areas, you would have an answer, right? All of us have answers to some extent, we’re planners, even if it’s not really a plan, even if it’s just a dream, you have some idea of where you intend to go in every important arena of life. We’re just wired that way.
But the challenge is, and here’s what we’re gonna talk about today, the challenge is often times there is a disconnect. There is a disconnect between what we intend and the direction we choose. There’s often a disconnect between our intention, “Yeah, we’re gonna be out of debt. Yeah, by this time next year, by five years from now, I hope, by the time kids are all… “, there’s often times a disconnect between our intention and our direction. And here’s the thing, I don’t want, and I know you don’t want, and maybe most importantly or most importantly, your Heavenly Father does not want you to be a victim of this disconnect. Because at the end of the day, and we all know this, we just need somebody to remind us every once in a while, at the end of the day direction trumps intention every single time. That direction always wins.
So a young lady says, “Yeah well, my hope is that one day I’m gonna meet a great guy, a mature guy, But in the meantime, I’ll just go out with basically whoever asks me, as long as he’s cute, right?” Or dad says, “You know what? I want our family to be a unit. I want us to be family-centric, I want the kids to want to be together even when they don’t have to be. I want us to all wanna be together, even when we don’t have to be, even when they’re older. I want us to be a family unit. So in the meantime, I’m just gonna work all the time, and I’m gonna say yes to extra trips.” “One day we’re gonna be debt free. But in the meantime, debt is just a way of life.” “Now, when I’m married, Andy of course, when I’m married, I’m gonna honor my wife. But these other girls that I’m dating, they’re not my wife, so it’s different, right?”
“Once I meet the right person, I’ll change.” “Once I make more money, I’ll become generous.” And it always gets really quiet at this point in the message, because somebody’s thinking, “Wow, how did you know?” Well, two things, somebody always knows. In fact, somebody has already tried to warn you. And the other thing is this, you are unique, but your story is not, and your path isn’t either, and your destination isn’t either.
Now, about 900 BC, okay think about that if you can, 900 BC, a king named Solomon that all of us have probably heard ofSolomon was very wise on paper, he was textbook wise, he wasn’t live-it-out wise, in fact, at the end of his life he ignored all of his advice and his story does not end well. But when he was riding and when he was thinking, he was very, very wise, and he left the world with wisdom literature that’s absolutely extraordinary. And in the document we call the Book of Proverbs he tells a parable, I think it’s a parable, it could be a true story, but it’s kind of written in parable form, so I think it’s a parable.
But he writes a parable to illustrate, basically, this principle for a group of young men, and it involves a young man, he’s part of the parable, and then it also involves another character. So the two characters in the parable are a naïve young man and a seductive married woman. Now ladies, I just wanna make sure you understand, the point is not that all women are seducers, that is not the point, okay? And his point is not that all men are naïve, but they might be. [laughter] So anyway, but that’s not the point. The point is, here’s Solomon’s point, Solomon reminds us, and this is a big deal, Solomon reminds us that what oftentimes is intended by us, and there’s our word, he reminds us oftentimes that what is intended by us to simply be a diversion, is actually a direction with an unintended destination. This is why it is not enough to have good intentions, they count for nothing. Your direction determines your destiny every single time in every single arena of life.
So, here’s how Solomon rolls this out, here’s what he says. He says, “At the window,” and again, he’s talking to young men, he’s got a bunch of young men sitting around, he’s trying to teach them this lesson, and here’s what he says, “At the window of my house”, so he’s got perspective, he’s up high, “I look down through the lattice,” I’m kind of spying on this kid, “I looked down through the lattice and I saw among the simple or the naïve, I noticed among the young men a youth who lacked judgment.”
He continues, “He,” this kid, “was going down the street near her corner, everybody knows where she lives, walking along in the,” there’s our word, “direction of her house at twilight.” He knew what was going on. “As the day was fading, as the dark of night set in.” So now we have two different perspectives. The narrator and the naïve young man, and if there was music playing, there would be two very different soundtracks, because what this kid is hearing playing in the background of his mind is very different than the Jaws music playing in the background [laughter] of the narrator, okay? The text continues, “Then out came a woman to meet him dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent. She is unruly,” he blows this up, there’s hyperbole to make his point. “She is unruly and defiant, her feet never stay at home. Now in the street, now in the squares, at every corner she lurks, and she took hold of him. She took hold of him as she kissed him, and with a brazen face, she said,” and this is a little bit R-rated, okay? “With a brazen face she said, ‘Today I have fulfilled my vows and I have food from my fellowship offering at home.'” Woo.
Come on. What in the world does that even mean? It’s like, “Hey, hey, hey, fellowship offerings, oh, I can’t resist.” So basically, she’s referring to some kind of religious ceremony, and we don’t know if it’s Jewish or Canaanite, nobody’s really clear. But her point is, “Hey, I’m not a bad person, okay? I went to the temple, and I kinda went through the routine, I made a sacrifice, I emptied my sin bucket. Let’s fill her back up.” [laughter] So now she gets real personal. “So I came out to meet you,” not just anybody, you. “I looked for you and have found you.” And he’s thinking, “Me? I’m special.” And the narrator is thinking, “No, you’re an idiot.” [laughter] The kid’s thinking, “I am one in a million,” and the narrator’s thinking, “No, you are one of a million.” [laughter]
She continues, “I have covered my bed with colored linens from Egypt, I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon.” Now, this is a really big deal in this culture, which means nothing to us. And so let me just put it in context. In ancient times, everything and everybody stank. Stunk. Smelled horrible. In ancient times there everything smelled terrible. It smelled like manure, it smelled like body fluids, it was horrible. So what she’s saying is, “I’m gonna rescue you from this horrible, polluted world that you live in, and you’re gonna come into an environment,” because apparently she’s wealthy as we find out in just a minute, “And not only is it gonna feel good, it’s gonna smell good, it’s gonna be perfect. So come,” she says, “Let’s drink deeply of love till morning. Let’s enjoy ourselves with love.”
And then she reads his mind, which is not all that difficult. “But don’t worry, my husband is not at home. He has gone on a long journey and he has taken his purse,” which is confusing. [laughter] So we’re gonna switch from the New International Version to the New American Standard Version at this point, to gain a little clarity, lest you think that explains why she’s out on the… Okay anyway. So, “My husband is not at home, he has gone on a long journey, he has taken a bag of money.” Oh, that’s what we’re talking about, a bag of money with him. In other words, he’s gonna be gone a long time, he has taken a bag of money with him and will not be home till full moon. We got time.
So here’s the message. There’s no consequence if we don’t get caught. There’s no consequence if nobody knows. I can take a wrong turn without actually going the wrong way. With persuasive words she led him astray, she seduced him with her smooth talk, and then all at once, all at once, he followed her. Now he’s thinking, “Yeah, I followed her. I’m like a celebrity, passed all the lines outside the club right up to the door, passed the bouncer to the best seat in the house.” He followed her. The narrator is like, “Nah, like an ox going to the slaughter” [laughter]
Wait a minute, what do you mean slaughter? This is like the greatest moment ever, right? This is perfect and I say, “Solomon, you are so old fashioned, you just don’t get it, gramps.” Solomon’s like, “I’m not even done. Like a deer stepping into a noose, till an arrow pierces his liver.” “Oh Solomon, you are such a drama queen. Just relax. I mean, this is just one night, it’s just a diversion. You’re making such a big deal out of this.” Solomon’s still not done. “Like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life.” “Oh, good grief. Solomon, come on. It’s not gonna cost me anything. It may cost me a little money, it may cost me a little time, nobody’s really gonna know.”
Then the narrator, Solomon, pulls out of his parable and he addresses the young men who are in his presence. He speaks directly to them. He says, “Now then, my sons,” again, he’s out of the parable, “Now then, my sons, listen to me. Pay attention to what I say. Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths.” It’s like, “Wait a minute, ways and paths? This wasn’t about a way or a path, this was just a diversion. Now is now, and later is later. The past is the past, the present is the present, and the future is the future. What do you mean paths and ways?” “Many, many, many are the victims she has brought down. You’re not one in a million, you’re one of a million brought down. “Her slain are a mighty throng.” Now, we’ll come back to this in just a second. Do you know why counselors are so smart? Oh, they’re educated and they’re good at their craft, but do you know why they just appear so smart?
It’s because we are so predictable, because your direction has a destination tied to it. And you get in to see a counselor or a pastor or somebody or even just a trusted friend, and you’re telling your problem, “And this happened, this happened, then she said this, and now we’re in a mess, and I’m looking for a solution,” as we talked about last week. “I’m looking for a fix,” and a good counselor knows there’s no solution, there’s no fix. There’s just direction and the solution isn’t here, “Just do these two things and stop doing these two things.” A solution isn’t, “Just read a book.” The solution ultimately is a change of direction and you can’t instantly do that. That’s not an overnight thing, it’s a process. Just like the process got you where you don’t wanna be, there’s a process that gets you to where you do wanna be. And when you change direction, things change.
This is Solomon’s point. That what began as a simple sidebar, kind of a diversion, we didn’t know it, you didn’t know it, it was actually a pathway that led somewhere. Listen to what he says next in case you think I’m exaggerating this. “Her house,” he says, “her house is a highway.” Her house isn’t a highway, her house is a house. A house is a house. No, her house is a highway. You mean it’s on the highway? No. I mean, it is a highway. Wait, wait. How can a house be a highway? Because her house and everything associated with it is taking you somewhere. And some of us have some houses that are highways that have nothing to do with anything sexual, or it might, that we just think it’s a pastime, it’s a diversion, it’s just what we do, it’s just, “You know, I’m only just 25. We’ve only been married for a year. I got plenty of time.” It is a house and your Heavenly Father is saying, “No, it’s a highway.”
Her house appeared to be a pastime, it turned out to be a pathway. It was actually taking him somewhere. Again, back to where we started. You are unique, I’ll grant you that. And as much you as don’t wanna hear this, your experience is not all that unique and neither is your path, and the destination isn’t either. It is predictable, and it’s predictable to somebody. And it’s predictable to somebody who’s probably tried to point it out, but you can’t, you just can’t seem, or you just don’t wanna hear it. Somebody who can see what you don’t see, or in reality, most of the time, if we’re honest. Isn’t this true? More than likely, it’s somebody who can see what you won’t see.
And the reason they keep bringing this front and center for you, the reason they keep writing you those notes, every once in a while, they just give you that look, every once in a while you feel like they wanna talk to you about something and you know what it is, but they don’t wanna bring it up because there we go again. The reason is, because they don’t want, and I don’t want, and your Heavenly Father doesn’t want, and at the end of the day, you don’t want to be a victim of the disconnect between your intention and your direction. Your intention and your direction. Because at the end of the day, it’s not your intention, it’s your direction that determines your destination. So we’re gonna add a word to our definition of the Principle of the Path. Direction, not intention, determines destination. Direction, not intention, determines destination. Direction, not intention, determines your destination. Now, I know what you thinking, “Okay, Andy, “I don’t know where you live. You probably have no social life. You don’t live in the world I live and you don’t face what I face, and so Andy, to be honest, if I’m just super honest with you, it sounds to me like you’re just trying to take away all my fun.” No, I’m just trying to take away some of your fun, not all of your fun. And I’m really not trying to take away anything. I really wanna give you something, and it’s not me, it’s our Father in Heaven who gave us this incredible literature, and then combined it with what Jesus would do some 100, a 1,000 years later. It’s just fantastic. And Jesus’ invitation was always to better life, not less life.
And what Jesus offered and what our Heavenly Father offers and what I’m trying to offer today on their behalf isn’t… I don’t wanna take something away. I actually want to add something. So to do that, I wanna give you a homework assignment. You won’t need to write this down, I think you’ll be able to remember it. This is what I would love for you to do when you go home. At some point, by yourself or maybe as a couple, it won’t take very long and it’s gonna set us up for where we’re going next week, but I would love for you to go home and find an empty box. And your empty box will probably have the word “Prime” on it, okay. [laughter] And if you don’t have one yet, just wait a couple of days. It’s coming. Just wait a couple of days, you’ll have an empty box and I want you to get an empty box. That’s step one, okay, open it up, and then I want you to collect all the fun you’ve had and put it in the box. You just put all the fun from the past in the box. Then I want you to collect all the money that you’ve wasted and put that in the box with all the fun you’ve had. And then step number four is I just want you or y’all to just stare at it. [laughter] And then I want you to push back from the table or the counter top or wherever you are, and I want you to think about something. I want you to think back to your most generous moment. That time there was somebody in need, maybe a family member, maybe a neighbor, maybe you heard something at one of our churches. And you didn’t have any margin, you didn’t have a lot of money, but you just thought, “You know what, even if we have to go without, we have to do something about that.” I want you to remember that moment.
I want you to think back to that moment, or those moments. And now, if you don’t have any, that’s part of the point of all this, but I want you to think back to those generous moments. I want you to think back to some of your more selfless days, those days when you could have done something for you, and instead you gave up that Saturday and you went over there and helped that neighbor, you went and helped that person or you went down, were part of a Habitat build, or you just went and did something, you went and fed some people, or you went and collected some clothes, or you packed a backpack for some kids.
You gave up time that you were gonna spend on you for somebody else. I want you to just think, as you’re looking at that empty box, to think about some of those things. That time that you said no to you, so you can say yes to somebody else. And then I just want you to ask yourself this question, “What do you want more of? What do you want more of?” Just memories of fun that aren’t even all that emotional until you conjure them up. Memories of money you’ve wasted, you have nothing to… Less than nothing to show for it. In some cases, you have debt to show for it. Or do you want more memories that elicit emotions of, “Oh my gosh, that was like the greatest day, some of the greatest days. You remember that?”, and it just brings emotion. Which one do you want more of? And here’s my point, fun, fun is always in the rearview mirror, even the right kind of fun. But satisfaction is a traveling companion. It sits in the passenger seat every single day of your life. And satisfaction, that sense of, (sigh) “This is how I intended for life to be. This is how I intended our marriage to be. This is how I intended our world to be.” Satisfaction is always the result of arriving where you intended to be. But satisfaction, satisfaction eludes the people who live as if life isn’t connected.
So, maybe it’s time, maybe it’s time for a little less fun, but a little more joy, a little more peace, a little more (big sigh) satisfaction. And the path you choose makes all the difference. And the reason I really, for some of you want you to get a box, is because you are moving in a direction, and you know it’s not a happy ending. You’re happy now, but you know you just can’t keep doing this. You can’t keep living this way. You can’t keep treating her that way. You can’t keep talking to him like that. You know at the end of this path, it’s not where you intend to be.
It’s time to start a really sharp U-turn, and I hope that maybe this little silly exercise will remind you, “You know what, at the end of the path I’m on, I’m just gonna have more empty box. But I’m not gonna have any (sigh) satisfaction.” Because you only find satisfaction when you arrive at where you intended to be. This is why what Jesus taught is so remarkable. I mean there’s so many things, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. You take my yoke, and you know what you’re gonna find? You’re gonna find,” this is so amazing, “you you will find rest, satisfaction for your souls. Follow me,” Jesus said, “and I’m gonna lead you to abundant life, big life, fulfilling life.” The apostle Paul would come back later and say, “Since following Jesus, I have learned the secret. I have learned the secret of being content in every single circumstance. I have learned the secret of finding satisfaction, even when I don’t have anything.”
That is the invitation of your Heavenly Father. But it will require of you and require of me that we begin living in a different direction, because direction, not intention, ultimately determines our destination.
So let me ask you and then we’re done, does your direction line up with your intention? Does your direction line up with your intention? I know you know what you intend life to be like. You know how you intend this to work out and to end up. Is your life lined up? Is your direction lined up with your intention? And if not, would you be willing to consider changing and living in the right direction? And here’s what I don’t want you to do, okay. I don’t want you to leave here today or shut off your computer or shut off your television and say, “Oh, that was so convicting. He’s so smart. How did he know I really need to do something about that? That was so religious. I felt so bad about myself and I felt close to God. Wow.” That’ll do… That’s just unapplied paint, it doesn’t do any good. Doing is what makes the difference, and the invitation isn’t simply to believe something. The invitation isn’t to agree with me. The invitation is to change the direction you’re living in, and that’s what your Heavenly Father has invited you to do.
So, would you begin making that hard u-turn? People won’t understand, your family won’t understand, people at work may not understand. Your broken up boyfriend, and your broken up girlfriend, they’re really not gonna understand. What becomes your ex-fiance, he’s not gonna understand, she’s not gonna necessarily understand. But if know, you gotta go. And if you know what your Heavenly Father is nudging you and urging you to do, don’t say no to your Father in Heaven. Because at the end of the day, whether you believe this or not, whether you leverage it or not, remember it’s a principle. You don’t apply a principle, principles apply themselves to you. And regardless of whether you believe it or not, your direction, not your intention, is determining at this very moment your ultimate destination. So, would you begin this week living in a different direction?