For those lucky few who don’t know what dizzy bat is, it’s an abusive and borderline-torturous game calling for each player to hold their forehead to the end of a bat, spin around it a certain number of times (depending on how cruel the rule-maker is) and then make a drunken dash for a finish line several yards away.
As a kid, I really only remember playing it once before I lost all interest in it.
Despite my hatred of being dizzy, however, I have to admit there is one majorly-important life lesson spun into it: before moving with any confidence, we must reorient ourselves to something unmoving and reliable; and that thing cannot be found within ourselves.
When we’re dizzy, we know we can’t trust where we feel our minds taking us. In fact, if you’re dizzy enough, we all seem to automatically know that the direction which feels most unnatural to us is actually the right way to go. Unfortunately, this automatic awareness doesn’t spill into the non-dizzy-bat arenas of life. Maybe that’s because no one wants to admit they’re dizzy as they tumble and bumble to defend what they want to be true despite there being no consistent logic tied to their beliefs.
Another way to explain this (with less nausea) is a GPS system. For being such a new development, GPS has done quite a number on our ability to navigate. Ironically, GPS is isn’t possible without the tool we think it’s replaced; that weird thing we’ve relegated to Boy Scouts and Indiana Jones costume kits. The compass. Using only the voice commands of our GPS, “north” has simply become a highway sign to look for or a winding blue arrow to follow. It becomes circumstantial rather than an unchanging focus.
In real life, however, having a lock on the unchanging true north is crucial if we want to keep ourselves reliably oriented and stay on course.
The consensus of our culture today seems to find the basic concept of a compass offensive. To be loving means to let people go (and even encourage them) in the direction they feel is most natural to them. To show anyone a compass, or even to publicly consult our own, is taken as a bold allegation that someone is wrong, and that simply shouldn’t be.
It’s true. Compasses represent a confession that going in the direction we think is proper and good might actually get us sidetracked. But the more years I live, the more I realize how many great things happen when we are willing to consider that we may actually not have it all figured out. That’s true in our marriages, our jobs, our culture, and our belief in how it all started and the meaning of the whole thing.
What’s worse is that many of us believe we contain the compass within our own nature. Even some professed Christians believe the lie that ethics is really just a matter of perspective, which evolves and shifts over time. Nevermind carrying that logic to its end: that if ethics evolve, then today’s ethics can be no more trusted and true than the ethics of two or twenty centuries ago. Truth has no evolution because it has nothing to do with us, and it is not subject to our ideas.
Getting sidetracked is so easy in a desert of shifting sands, and our circumstances, hormones and emotions are experts at guiding us astray. We get dizzy with love, anger, desperation, and yet we rarely think to stop and reorient ourselves to a “true north” before responding.
As Christians, the true north we profess is Jesus. We believe his life and even His promises fulfilled, confirmed, and completed everything taught in ancient Judaism. He described His teachings as simply “the truth,” and for those who follow Him, He is our stationary object to hold onto when things get confused and inconsistent.
Few people believe they’re out of touch with what is true. But those who believe only what they like or what they want to believe are those who are ironically most out of touch. They are the ones who are most arrogant, even as they point the finger to those who disagree with them. (A statement by Francis Chan seems appropriate to paraphrase here: Those who understand and value absolute truth are only those who end up believing as true some things they wish were not true at all.)
As sojourners in this wandering, dizzying world, we must identify what is true. Our standard. That which remains unchanged no matter what else happens, and is consistent with every single thing we experience or feel. And then we must hold tight and trust in that truth, regardless of what inconveniences the world may bring us.