Reflections by Jeremy Alger

I’ve been dishing out the same bit of wisdom for a few weeks now. It is a quote that I heard and instantly recognized as valuable. So I wrote it on a post-it note and stuck it on my desk. Less than ten minutes later someone came into my office to share an incredible story about what God was doing in her life and I pulled the note off my desk and handed it to her. It was the perfect word for her! She took the note and went on her way.
About two weeks later I was recounting that story with her and following up, and I couldn’t remember what I’d actually written on the note. She reminded me and I wrote it down again. Since then I have shared it with two other groups of people, and today I have chosen to share it with you.
Upon searching Google I find that this quote (or at least the idea of it) has been used many times, so I can’t confidently say who originated it.
“Jesus doesn’t give us a map. He gives us a compass.”
I think that the vast majority of people would love a simple map with a path drawn out and a giant ‘X’ at the end to show us not only where to go, but how to get there, give us some landmarks along the way to help us know that we are on the right course, and let us know that we are just a certain number of steps away from arriving at our perfect destination.
As Christians I think it is fair to assume that the destination we are looking for is heaven. I think it is also fair to assume that the only source of that map could be Jesus. After all, we’ve read this conversation in John chapter 14 verses 1-6.
1 Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
I find it encouraging that Thomas (one of the disciples) was so blunt about his lack of knowing what Jesus meant. But Jesus was ready with a clear response. The way to heaven is with/through Jesus himself.
So this metaphorical compass, where does it point? It points to Jesus. We are always to look to Jesus, His actions, His priorities, and His will. Following and emulating those things are the path to the destination that we seek.
The best place to find the details of that example is in God’s Holy Word, specifically the Gospels. When we know what Jesus did and said, how he lived and who He reached out to we are better prepared to walk in the way of our Lord.
A map would be nice, but with faith we can be just as confident and content to know the way we should walk for today, and trust that Jesus won’t let us get lost along the way.
Jeremy Alger is the pastor of the New Cumberland Church of the Nazarene. For more information please visit