How to Spiritually Find Your Way as a Christian

by Hannah Hartzell | Jun 21, 2021 | Articles

On the rare occasion when I watch a survival show, a strange phenomenon occurs. Invariably, I’m struck by a wealth of knowledge on outdoor survival,  finding myself amazed at the seemingly stupid choices these men and women are making. One wrong turn or questionable berry ingestion, and they’re done for. “Oh come on,” I groan. “Everyone knows you don’t do that!”

So, do I really become an outdoor expert when I turn on those shows? Of course not. I merely assume I know better because television plots, and my pride, make it easy to spot others’ mistakes.

We’re quick to notice when those around us go off track; very rarely do we see things as clearly when we’re faced with similar dilemmas.

Recently, for instance, I was running through the foothills of Sedona. I took one wrong turn and found myself out on a rock ledge with no trail in sight. As I picked my way down the hill (downward seemed like the safer option), I laughed at my own carelessness and thanked God. In that instance, and the subsequent (more perilous) one the following day, God protected me. . .and he offered a lesson.

We Need Spiritual Cairns

Do you know what cairns are? They’re markers that indicate which direction a trail is headed. These small rock formations—often constructed in a shape indicative of the region—tell hikers and trail runners where to go.

The practice of actively looking for cairns is vital to trail safety. Otherwise, hikers can find themselves off-trail and in danger. Trust me: those moments are scary—for you and for the people who expected you to return from your trek at a specific time. (Sorry, Mom!)

Through my adventures in Arizona, God revealed to me that life with him is not all that different from journeying on a hiking trail. When it comes to staying “on trail,” we don’t have an easy task ahead of us. We live in a world that says there are multiple truths and that we should just follow our hearts. As you likely know, pursuing either of those options is bound to lead us astray and leave us miserable. Why? Because we aren’t God. We didn’t make the map to life, nor can we trust our sinful hearts to guide us. Truth doesn’t come from within. It comes from God. Friends, we need direction. We need spiritual cairns.

How to Find Your Way

So how do we find our way when we’re internally and externally surrounded by chaos? First, we look to the Bible. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your Word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Similarly, Jesus himself said that the Bible is truth and has the power to sanctify (John 17:17). We also read that holy Scripture is “alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).

So, does all this mean that the Bible will specifically address your situation? Will Scripture tell you if you should send your child to public school or if God wants you to take that new job? Not explicitly, no. But it does instruct us in the foundations required to make those decisions.  The Word is full of guidance regarding discipleship, trusting God with your children, being a wise steward of your money, using your God-given gifts, and being a light in the world.

In the Day-to-Day

The Word is a cairn. God’s words will direct your path. But what if you’re really struggling? What will help you when you don’t have strength to open your Bible or aren’t sure how to interpret Scripture? What then?

My best advice is to approach all situations with the goal of seeking God. That aim, rather than perfection, is what will draw you near to the heart of God. And from that vantage point, you’ll find great freedom and strength. And remember: We aren’t alone in our faith. God has provided many resources and the blessing of community. These are spiritual cairns as well.  Here are a few I find especially helpful:

  • Belonging to a church family – I can’t stress this one enough. We were designed to be regularly involved in a church community, for our well-being and for the well-being of Christians around us. If you aren’t already plugged into a church, this is your starting point.
  • Regular accountability with a mentor – Walking alongside someone who is more spiritually mature is such a blessing. Together, you can pray, learn, and study.
  • Deep friendships – Maintain close connections with at least two other believers, even when it’s hard. These are the friends who have the license to ask you the hard questions. They’re the ones who will devote time to praying with and for you in your deepest sin struggles and pain. You should also regularly discuss what you both are learning in your time with God. Such friends are invaluable!
  • Volunteering – Few things help refocus us on God’s heart like serving those who are less fortunate or teaching/discipling others in their faith.
  • A general statement of who you are – Craft a brief statement (just a few sentences in length) of what you want your life to stand for. This personal mission statement is something you should place in a location where you’ll see it often. Regularly review it to gauge how your lifestyle is matching God’s will for your life.

Endure to the End

These are but a few examples. You will undoubtedly find variations that work well for you. Rooted in the Word, such markers will help keep you find your way and keep moving in the direction God wants you to go. Like a cairn on a trail, they will warn you when you’re approaching a dangerous intersection in life or are faced with temptation.

And just like cairns, these day-to-day “plugins” will remind you to look up—to behold the majesty of the God who guides his children with care and love.