Chaplain’s Corner: CLXVI

“Finding Direction in the New Year”

“Do you want to know the secret of a long life?”  That’s the question Michael Gartner’s 95 year
old father asked him one day, seemingly out of the blue, while he was driving his parents.  “I
guess so,” replied Gartner, former president of NBC News, who recalled the conversation in a
2006 memoir.  “No left turns,” said his father. “What?” Gartner replied.  “No left turns,” his dad

The elder Gartner went on to report that he and his wife, who was then 88 years old, had read
an article that most car accidents involving senior citizens happened because they made ill-
advised left turns in front of oncoming traffic.  Aging often diminishes depth perception.  “So
your mother and I decided never again to make a left turn.”

Gartner’s dad had long since given up driving.  He acted as navigator while his wife sat behind
the wheel.  Neither had a very keen sense of direction. When you think about it, three
consecutive right turns will indeed point you in the same direction as a single left turn.
If you get behind the wheel of your car today, you probably make your own share of right turns.
And left ones too.  But that doesn’t guarantee that at any given moment you’ll know exactly
where you’re going.

Guidance is one of the central concerns of walking with God.  How do we know that we’re
heading in the right direction?  Can anyone be sure they’re pursuing the goals, and investing
their time and energy in the right pursuits?  The way we find our way through this world is by
relying on the Holy Spirit.  The prophet Isaiah points out that God’s people have been gifted
with an extraordinary onboard navigation system.

“Whether you turn right or left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way,
walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21)  The inner voice of the Spirit, that whisper that helps us discern where
God wants us to be headed, is better than GPS.  Guidance happens when we’re moving.  And
sometimes it comes one turn at a time. As Isaiah points out, it’s when we’re turning to the right or to the left that we hear God’s voice.

As we surrender our deliberations and discussions as best we can to the Spirit’s oversight,
what emerges is something that honors God and our voice as well.
So put your life in drive in this New Year 2024.  Tell God you’re listening. And be sure that
whether you’re turning to the right or to the left, God’s Spirit will always be waiting for you at the
next intersection.

Ron Naylor, Chaplain