True North

A magnetic compass needle will always point to magnetic north. To calibrate a compass properly, you must understand that magnetic north and true north are not the same directional value. In fact, magnetic north is approximately 1,000 miles (1609.34 km) away from the true North Pole, and the distance between these two points can change significantly based on your specific geographic location when using a compass. This phenomenon is referred to as “magnetic declination” and requires you to adjust your compass while using a map that features both magnetic and true north directions. Your adjustments will vary based on your specific geographic location.   – HOW TO CALIBRATE A MAGNETIC COMPASS, by Jeremiah Blanchard –

Yesterday, as I was driving in a miserable rainstorm, I was amazed yet again at the inability of most drivers to obey simple traffic rules.  Here in my state, you are not allowed to drive in a bus lane, unless you are turning and even then only for the last 100 meters before you make the turn.  The last 100 meters are conveniently marked for those drivers like me, who struggle to estimate distance (do picture my tongue in cheek) so no estimation required.  Yet drivers are frequently seen shooting past stationary vehicles waiting their turn and even though I get as frustrated as the next driver when I have to wait for lights to change, I cannot bring myself to break the rule just to save myself a few minutes of driving time.

I have been told that I am a pain in the you-know-what for being such a stickler for rules more than I care to remember.  I have been the butt of jokes, ridiculed for driving like a grandma and made fun of for reading, and quoting verbatim,  the rule book of many a board game.  I cannot seem to help myself.

Does this mean that I never mess up, never make a mistake, never loose concentration and never fail to choose to do the right thing?  Certainly not!  But I do not enjoy breaking rules, I cannot justify bad choices and I do not give myself permission to push boundaries…and I have been asking myself why.

Meditating on this topic, I recall a conversation with an assistant.  Back in the day,  when I was still teaching, we would get together each morning and pray for each other.  We would bring our students before the Lord, ask for His guidance for our day and for grace to do the best job that we could.   Then one morning, she arrived in a huff – she had received a second speeding fine that week.  My response was not what she anticipated, because instead of commiserations, I quoted Romans 13:1 and 2 at her.   Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God [granted by His permission and sanction], and those which exist have been put in place by God. Therefore whoever resists [governmental] authority resists the ordinance of God. And those who have resisted it will bring judgement (civil penalty) on themselves. (AMP)  Her response was to tell me not to be religious!

I have been thinking about this for days now…why do we, as children of God, called to live by a higher standard, like Jesus lived by a higher standard, find it so difficult to obey legitimate rules set by legitimate authority?  If we cannot obey simple traffic rules, or respect “Do not sit on the grass” signs or whatever simple rules we deem too insignificant to apply to us also, how do we expect to be able to obey God when He says a very clear and loud NO to us when we want to indulge the lust of our flesh, or our eyes or our hearts?  How can we be trusted with greater spiritual authority over the works of the evil one, if we cannot even be trusted to take authority over our desires to break simple, basic rules that are designed to keep our communities safe?

I wondered why people like me find it so difficult to break rules, and why some people seem to be so very blasé about keeping them…even in church settings… and I came to the conclusion that it has everything to do with the calibration of our inner compass.  Some people have their compass calibrated to magnetic north, or to put in in Biblical terms “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” (Judges 17:6)   It’s sad to see Christians living as if they have no Christ,  each living exactly as they see fit, as if there is no grace to empower us to live to a higher standard, no Holy Spirit to guide us and no reason for taking personal responsibility.  Like many a mother used to say:  If everyone jumps in the fire, are you going too?  If sin is missing the mark, and if a miss is as good as a mile, just how far off is our heart’s calibration?

As followers of Jesus, we study the Word, many of us emulate Jesus by praying for, and healing the sick, teaching, discipling new believers and some of us even raise the dead.  Yet many of us live compromised, justifying rebellion and giving ourselves permission to live as if Jesus did not, and does not empower us to live stellar lives.  So this is a call to come up higher, to take personal responsibility, regardless of what everyone or anyone else is doing.  I set before you, and also myself, one standard – Jesus Christ, our Lord and Master.  I pray that we, as His body and the only plan for impacting the world around us, would invite Him into our heart of hearts to re-calibrate us again to True North so that we become beacons for those lost in darkness, instead of being blind people leading blind people.

Jesus said to His disciples  “I will not speak with you much longer, for the ruler of the world (Satan) is coming. And he has no claim on Me [no power over Me nor anything that he can use against Me]; but so that the world may know[without any doubt] that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father has commanded Me [and act in full agreement with Him]. Get up, let us go from here. John 14:30-31  (AMP)

That is my prayer as I write this.  Lord, let the enemy have no claim on me, nor power over me nor find anything in me that he can use against me.  Jesus, have mercy on me and empower me, by Your Spirit, with grace to do exactly as the Father commands me so that I can act in full agreement with Him, as You do.  I also pray this for His Bride, the Church…you.

May the Lord Jesus do a great work in us, may He re-calibrate our hearts and empower us to renew our minds, so that we lead those around us to the Father’s heart.