There’s a vast difference between following a map and following a person, and blessed are those who discover it.
My first time in Paris was a layover on the way home from Eastern Europe, and I had only one night to see something—anything—distinctly French. I could see the Eiffel Tower from a distance, so I chose to visit the Champs Élysées and the Arc de Triomphe. Armed with maps of the metro and enough of the language to get by, I set out to see whatever I could squeeze into my one night.
All along the way, I followed signs, read maps, noticed landmarks, and tried not to get lost. And I was successful until the end, when the metro line I was on split into two directions and I didn’t know which one was right. All my maps and signs were insufficient. Fortunately, a very nice French person (not an oxymoron, by the way) helped me out and explained—in English, just to make sure I got it—which way to go.
That’s a lot like life. We spend a lot of time studying instructions and signs—principles and wisdom derived from the Bible, for example—but we need more than that. We need an actual person. God’s Word is right, but it needs interpretation. It gives us directions for general situations, but we need specifics. And our own finite minds aren’t sufficient for the task. We need someone to tell us we’re in the right place or correct us when we’re not. We need the personal touch.
That’s why our faith should never be reduced simply to learning God’s Word and applying it. That’s good—even essential—but it isn’t personal enough in itself. We need the Spirit, the person, the relational side of believing. Life with him is not a to-do list to accomplish; it’s a conversation to pursue and enjoy. “Doing” will come out of that relationship, but “being” must come first. There’s a vast difference between following a map and following a person, and blessed are those who discover it.