Once upon a time, a long, long, long time ago… 1988 to be precise… I attended PLDC (Primary Leadership Development Course) at Ford Ord, California while I was stationed at a Military Police Unit in San Jose, California.
Wow, I just did the math on that. It was 35 years ago. Holy Toledo. I am old.
Okay, back to the story…
PLDC was a lot of classroom time, but a lot of it was also like doing basic training all over again. We ran super early in the morning, and a few times, we even had to run in formation in the sand on the beach. If I had to do that now, I’d probably just drop dead. Seriously.
Again, back to the story…
We had to go out to the field one day for an entire day of map reading. Each soldier was given a map, a compass, a protractor, and a list of points to find. We were not allowed to talk to one another, or have any kind of communication whatsoever with anyone, and there were proctors out in the field keeping an eye on us to make sure that we did not.
Everyone had a different list of points to find, and no one’s were in the same order. If you couldn’t use your compass and protractor to find the first place accurately, then every place you went after that would be wrong, because it had to be calculated precisely from the the last point. So each new point you found, you’d be further and further off course if you were incorrect with finding the first point. There were several people who just knocked it out of the park and were done in a couple of hours.
I was not one of those people.
Nope. I found the wrong first place, and so when I calculated on the map how to get to the next place, I was a little bit off, and then even more off the next time, and even further off the next time, until finally I ran into a friend who was as lost as I was. And since there were no instructors out where we were anymore to make sure we were not communicating with one another, we both just sat down and tried to figure out where we were, and how to get back to camp.
Neither one of us had great map reading skills, obviously. We climbed to the top of this hill, which really felt like a mountain, and when we got to the top, we saw the shopping mall in Salinas, California, and realized just how far off track we were! At that point, we knew we had failed the course, and spent the afternoon finding our way back to camp.
The following day, those who had failed were remediated on our map reading skills, and sent back out to the field with a second go at the course. This time, I knocked it out of the park, but time-wise, I think I made it back to camp with literally minutes to spare. When I could see my friends who had completed it already, I was looking down at them from the top of the hill, and they were cheering me on to hurry up. The fastest way I could think to get down to the bottom was to throw my M16 over my back, sit down on my blessed assurance, and slide.
So slide, I did! And I arrived back to camp with a big hole in the seat of my pants, but I passed the map reading course and graduated from the class! Ta! Da!
One of the reasons I told this story is because… well, cuz it’s just funny! Especially that climb to the top of the “mountain” with my classmate. When we got to the top we were stunned at how far we’d walked. But it reminded us of that Budweiser commercial with the guy climbing to the top of a mountain and finding an ice cold beer.
The more important reason I told this story is because it’s reminds me of listening to false teaching. Lately I’m watching people I care about listen to some really dangerous teaching, and yet others starting to follow some who are way, way off course. They say they can discern what’s true, and what’s not true, and pick and choose what to hold onto. But that’s like baking banana bread with arsenic in it, and asking someone to cut you a slice of bread with no arsenic in it. You can’t!
2 Timothy 4:3-4 says, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (I feel like I’m literally watching this take place.)
If you dabble with Joel Osteen, or Joyce Meyer, or TD Jakes, or any of the many other false teachers out there, you’ll start off a little bit off course, and then wind up more off course, until you’re lost, and unable to find Truth again. Worse yet, you may not get a chance to be remediated, and you may not get an opportunity for a re-do to find your way back.
Ephesians 5:11, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead EXPOSE THEM!“
If you follow Jesus, you have to know it comes with risks. Some of those risks include the loss of relationships you cherish, especially with the way the world is going these days. But if you’re a faithful and true friend, you will tell your friends who are headed in the wrong direction, that the Bible is their compass, and not to head off in the wrong direction. They may tell you to take a hike, and you may lose their friendship. Be a good friend, and point them to the Truth anyways. Because Jesus is worth it.
Jesus is always worth it.