By Caitlin Woodward
Skeptical? Yes. I am of most things that cry out from the American Christian sub-culture, “Buy me! I can fix you!” I don’t like the mess of fix-it steps that the well to do American culture has turned Christ’s grace and love into. We don’t need one more boxed and microwavable program to lead us into our own form of salvation. The road we’re on is narrow and hard. But what we tend to sell is easy and guaranteed.
I’m not bitter. At least not as much as I was. Andy Stanley’s book, The Principle of the Path, turned out to be less of a lost cause than I had originally anticipated. I went down his path looking for an exit ramp at the turn of every page. When I coasted to the final chapter, cleverly entitled “Road Closed”, I ended up appreciating his motivation behind the journey.
Direction – not intention – determines our destination.
This is the principle. About half way through the book, I could have sworn that Andy Stanley had this tattooed somewhere on his body. It seemed this was the mantra he lived and breathed by. The principle sounds easy: Direction – not intention – determines our destination. Now that takes up, what, all of six words? Yet, this author spent 170 pages adding to it. Like turning a back country road into the Vegas strip, it wasn’t necessary. I didn’t think this was a road I needed to be on, but I kept reading.
There were many, many, many repetitions and lists of recurring issues in one’s life where this principle can be addressed. If you happen to forget how to apply his wisdom to your life don’t worry because in another page or two he will provide the same list again. And again. My road had hit a round-about.
Thinking that I was getting nowhere quickly, I looked to see who was with me. Who’s this book really for? The words guided me into a perfectly controlled Rolls-Royce. Where did this come from? Andy kept making references to the smart and educated. Even titling a chapter “Why bad things happen to smart people?” I was getting sick and wanted to pull over.
When is the gospel according to Andy Stanley going to allow me to mess up? The first few chapters gave me a map and the idea that I can get to where I’m going if I make sure not to stumble. Be practical for a moment. There was too much focus on the control in one’s life and the preparation needed to make wise decisions. Basically, I would see nuggets of useful truths along the way like the old trucker at the diner that steers you clearly to the freeway. But nothing that hits the heart of a Wrecked reader enough to pull an immediate U-turn. Andy plays it safe.
I began to read on cruise control for a while. Nothing hit the windshield. Nothing made me want to stop and be affected by the drive. Even with a study guide in the back of this book would it really help? Would people who actually need to redirect their lives spend money for another self-help book?
Already this year I have ended a close friendship and turned down a nearly perfect job opportunity. Both decisions didn’t make sense. My road is not paved in gold. In fact, it’s sometimes as reckless as a roller-coaster. Yet, “direction – not intention – determines your destination.” Right? We’ve seen that sign before.
You have to be honest with yourself on your own drive. Where are you now? Really? With each turn in the map that Andy gave me I had to answer my own questions eventually and turn to the new direction I needed to go. Turn. That’s an adjective that requires action. Movement. Cruise control wasn’t going to help me anymore – not when you hit the speed bumps of pride and submission. Two issues that Andy addresses. If you can allow them to slow you down a bit and change something within you than this book might be more enlightening than you thought.
With some help from Andy he allowed me to see that there are some decisions we’ll need to make that don’t make sense. Decisions that show how conventional wisdom can be trumped by reflected trust. Trust in the One who knows and loves this path He made for us.
Finally. My exit ramp! Finally in the last pages Andy turns us fully into the Father’s plan and love for us. A motivation I’m willing to follow after. It made for an anti-climactical finish line. The way I see it is if Andy could have spent more time writing a book based off of the last chapter – made it radical, challenged us instead of spoon feeding the safe pew-sitters that we have become – then maybe this book would have lasted more than a week on my shelf.
Caitlin graduated from Asbury College with a degree in Media Communications and a desire for something more. She recently returned from traveling with Adventures in Missions on their World Race program. She’s been wrecked for this nation and desperately wants to see the youth and young adults of American know God more intimately, actively, and selflessly.