I grew up riding horses. Given that I am from Texas, most would assume that I rode western. False. I rode English. So if you have never caught a Grand Prix on ESPN (it airs about once a year) it’s where horse and rider manuever around an arena, jumping hurdles as quickly possible while trying not to pull a rail. I rode for 11 years and there is one thing that my trainer told me during each and every lesson I ever had: “It’s simply, it’s not easy.”
I used to get so irritated when she said that. What does that mean?! Aren’t you contradicting yourself?
A truly great rider will appear to be perfectly still while they are on their horse; not stiff, but soft, and completely in control while giving the appearance that they are not working at all. It’s a simple concept, but it is not easy to execute.
So how does a rider, a fraction of the size and weight of their noble steed, guide their horse to turn this way and that? Speed up and shorten their stride here and there? Most importantly, how does the ride steer their horse in the direction they need to go without moving their hands?
They look in the direction they want to go.
Where a rider’s eyes are focused changes the tilt and weight distribution of the rider’s body, something that their horse senses and responds to. Where the rider looks determines where the horse goes. When I look left, my weight will naturally drop into my left stirrup which means I place more pressure against my horses’ side with my right leg, lightening up the pressure on his left side, pushing him to track left.
That is not to say that I am blind to my surroundings; my peripheral vision comes in handy, but I would never avert my full attention to what appears in the corner of my eye. Why?
Because where I focus, he will follow. I want him to stay on course, so I must always be looking in the direction that I want him to go.
I am reading Andy Stanley’s book The Principle of the Path which speaks to this very analogy. And I must say, the simple reminder of this true and critical reality as captured my heart’s full attention.
There is so much packed into this little book and I know that I can not do justice to explain it here, but I will try none the less.
If you haven’t read it, I’m going to give something away– the principle of the path is this: “Direction, not intention, determines destination.” Simple? Yes. Easy? No.
The basis of the book elaborates on one central theme: Every decision you make determines that path that you will take. And every path that you take will direct you to the destination it promised.
Example- How you spend your money now will determine how much you have later. Your fiscal responsibility today determines your fiscal stability tomorrow. Money is just one example though. The same idea can be applied to marriage, children, relationships, your career, etc.
Andy references (and for good reason) Proverbs endlessly through his book, drawing attention to how desperately we ought to be asking for wisdom from above and applying it to people and circumstances we encounter everyday. “Be wise enough to know how wise you are not without divine intervention,” he says. I read in Proverbs just this morning that the beginning of wisdom is asking for it to begin with! Fancy that.
In addition to wisdom being an absolute necessity in making good decisions that lead to good places, you must be whole heartedly submitted; unconditionally resolved to invite God’s intervention and divine direction to shed light on each step He would have you take. It sounds simple enough, but what happens when where God would have you go, doesn’t seem to be… a happy place? Andy explains that “our propensity to defend our happiness decisions with justifications that are not founded in the Truth is what sets us up for trouble when the road will divide later.”
There are so many more things to be shared and unpacked from this book, but I would dilute them here. Buy it, read it, and then let me know what you think.
If direction, not intention, determines destination… which way are you headed?