Directional Wisdom
By Anthony Casperson

I sighed, “Do I even want to keep watching this?”

The YouTube video on my screen was of a pair of people playing a board game. This particular game is played over multiple sessions because it contains an overarching story that takes place through 20+ chapters.

For the specific chapter they played, the story had driven their characters out of a city that had just been overrun by enemies. Their flight set them into a vast and dangerous wood.

And left them lost.

The storybook that the players read out of gave some details meant to help them out. Including a direction they were to go—southeast—to get to the closest nearby town. And since the book said that their characters have a compass, direction should not have been a problem.

As the story continues a little further, a supporting character travelling with the players’ avatars gave them a map of the area. It was a little bit outdated. But since the map included points of interest that should stand through many ravages of time, it wasn’t useless. Plus, both the town the characters fled from and the one they were trying to get to were both on the map. The former on the upper left (northwest) of the map. And the latter on the lower right (southeast).

Once the players looked at the map in the book, their first statement was that it wasn’t very much help because they didn’t know which direction they needed to go to get to this new city. Apparently, they were so distracted when they literally read the directions telling them the city was southeast that they didn’t hear the words coming out of their own mouth.

And one player spun the page around, saying that he wasn’t even sure which way was north because the map didn’t say. While I had to let them partly slide on that comment, on account of the fact that they hadn’t listened enough to know they wanted to travel southeast—which would have proven north and south based off of the cities’ locations on the map as I’ve already described—there was one more thing that made me question their observation skills.

The players had placed a zoomed-in picture of the map as a background behind the images of themselves. And the one who’d questioned which direction of the map was north literally had the compass rose above his head. Like a blaring sign looking down on him saying, “Look here.”

As all of this was going on, the game introduced a travel mechanic that used square tiles set in a plus sign shape. Basically, the players were set on the tile in the middle of the other four and needed to figure out whether to move up (north), left (west), down (south), or right (east). Yes, the compass directions were included in the book for each tile’s direction.

For their starting position, the tiles to the west and south were blocked off, meaning those options were unavailable to them. The choice fell to either north or east. Now, I don’t know why it surprised me that people who had read—but not heard—the need to southeast would go north right away, but it did.

And that was when I sighed and asked the question at the start of this blog. “Do I even want to keep watching this?” Was it worth the frustration of watching people who didn’t listen to clear and obvious instructions—or the redundancies of the information built into the scenario—just to watch one of the few full playthroughs of this game that I like?

(As a quick side note, I watched a second YouTuber’s playthrough of the same scenario the next day. And they went north first too. That was when I knew what this week’s blog would be about.)

The whole situation reminded me of a teaching that’s repeated quite a few times in the bible. Especially in the book of Proverbs. The wise person will listen to direction and instruction. They’ll pay attention and order their lives well through the taking in of that information. But those who are not wise—called “fools” in Proverbs—will refuse to listen or be too distracted by their own desires. They’ll end up lost in life. And eventually face consequences for their foolishness. (Like the players of the game did.)

One of the passages that only speaks to the wise side of the interaction with wisdom is found in Proverbs 9:9. “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.” The person who lives by wisdom will increase in understanding because they heed the directions given. Following good directions will lead to the correct path.

Honestly, I think that there’s a pretty big problem with western culture that follows too closely with the foolishness of those YouTubers. Many claim to understand the bible or be Christians, but when it comes to the day-to-day of life, their chosen path leads them away from the directions clearly given by God.

Some look at actions that God clearly states are sins, but then they go against the way he gives as direction and praise the working of their sinful action. Either blatantly disregarding the word of God, or twisting the page around while they say, “The direction could be many ways, really. We don’t know which way is north.” (Meanwhile, the compass pointing true north stares at them with a tired sigh.)

I even recently heard a story from someone who left a church when the new “pastor” said during a discipleship class that the group was going to check out a mosque so that people could see which “truth” was best for them.

What?! Isn’t making disciples of Jesus—not learners of whatever religion best fits with a person’s preconceived perspectives and personal desires—the whole point of the Church remaining on earth until Jesus returns?

Why even claim to follow Jesus, if you could so easily just hop off onto another train of thought that goes in a direction opposite the one clearly given in God’s word? That’s just making yourself feel better because you have some spirituality. It’s not true discipleship.

And it certainly isn’t wisdom.

Proverbs 9 continues immediately after the verse quoted above to teach us where true wisdom must always start. Verse 10 reads, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” Understanding who God is in comparison to humanity leads us to wisdom. He’s the Creator. We’re the creation. He knows better than us what we’re made for. Because he’s the one who made us for it.

Following the directions of God alone will bring us wisdom. It’ll show us the life God desires for us. Everything else is foolishness. Foolishness that is just wandering lost in the woods as death creeps closer.

Seek wisdom. Listen to clear instruction. God’s directions will not leave us lost.