Daily Devotion | August 17, 2021

Finding Direction

by Rollie J.

These two beautiful gifts, sit on my work desk. In my fidgety, and tactile way I play with or handle them almost every day. They have great meaning for me both for what they are, and from whom they were given. I smile when I think of both the gift and more importantly the giver.

The one on the left was given to me by my long-time good friend and prayer buddy MJ. She has been on many of our adventure trips over the years. She has participated in many of our wilderness trips where we teach and then rely on a compass to navigate our way through difficult and confusing terrain in both the mountains and the wilderness canoe country of northern Minnesota and Canada. Having found her way through wilderness areas with the steadfast, consistent, and reliable compass, and knowing that I have a strong affection for this instrument, she had one personalized and inscribed for me. It was a surprise gift. No birthday. No celebration. No great accomplishment. Just because. Just to honor our friendship. I was deeply touched.

I love the inscription on the inside cap: “Go where He sends you!” Beautiful words for me personally, and for all of us as well. We always have the choice to go our own way. Nothing wrong with that. But it seems from what I’ve learned over a lot of years, is that when we align ourselves with God’s calling and purposes and follow the inner tuggings of the Holy Spirit, there is much greater fulfillment, joy, and contentment in our lives.

The second beautiful gift is also a hidden compass. One day at church, my good friend Mary Ann came up to me and handed me this unique gift. She told me she’d seen it in a gift store on her recent trip. She knew of my strong affection for all things wood, and my strong fondness for compasses. “As soon as I saw it, it had your name on it, Rollie!” It was a surprise gift. No birthday. No celebration. No great accomplishment. Just because. Just to honor our friendship. I was deeply touched. Unique, special gifts matched to the receiver are beautiful indeed!

I love the intricate and delicate wood inlay work and I believe the base is made of the reddish-brown padauk. Padauk is gorgeous wood I frequently use in the bows I build. It is smooth and pleasing to the touch in my hands. Gorgeous! Wood is good!

Compasses are such a simple tool. They work due to the magnetic needle that always points to true north. Once you know where true north is, then you can figure out all other directions. Doesn’t matter where you are, what you’re going through, how you’re feeling, who you’re with, what the weather is like, how much money you have, whether you are liked or loved, whether you’re happy or depressed. Doesn’t matter what political party is in control, or what your boss thinks of you. The compass just always points to true north. In a confusing, inconsistent, and often scary world, the compass just consistently, and constantly, and reliably points to true north.

Compasses are falling the way of the CD car stereos. They still work, but most folks would rather rely on their phones or modern GPS systems that can pinpoint a location by mere feet. I lean towards traditional methods and tools. Oh, I have my GPS for sure, and rely on it occasionally in the big wilderness areas of the mountain west and northern Canadian Shield country. But there is something to the simplicity and “old school” nature of a hand-held compass. I never enter the wilderness without one. And it normally hangs around my neck… leaving it directly next to my heart.

On many a wilderness journey paddling in the great north or wandering the mountain west I have come to confusing points in my journey. The terrain doesn’t look right compared to the map, or I can’t see the destination, or I’m just plain disoriented. Sometimes my senses or intellect tell me to go in one direction, yet when I check my compass, it often leads in a different direction. The question then remains; will I trust the compass or trust my own judgment? My own judgment has often gotten me into trouble and added extra miles and hardship to my journey. Yet when I’ve trusted, obeyed, and followed my compass… I found my way. Without exception.

God is either completely trustworthy all the time, every time, or he is not. He either knows what is best for your life and how to get where He wants you to be, or he doesn’t. I don’t think that there is any gray area or fuzziness or ambiguity with Him. So often though we look at the horizon of our life, and we cannot see the path, or the opening, or the doorway through which we should walk. We swear; “It can’t be in this direction! This just doesn’t look right!” Yet, we must then ask; will I trust, obey, and follow my spiritual compass.

Take a look at this short video.

Rollie Devotion 8.17.2021.MOV

Look what happens when my smartphone gets closer to my compass. The compass which is normally steady and stable goes berserk moving in circles and every which way under the proximity of the phone. Cell phones completely mess with our sense of direction and purpose.

The great bulk of us are completely addicted to our phones, me included. Most of us blatantly deny this. Most of us are completely self-deceived. Just look around at parents at any soccer practice, people standing in a grocery line, or a group of young friends out for dinner. Phones give us emails, chats, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Amazon shopping, Google and so much more. And almost all of us have big problems disengaging from this constant source of stimulus. When it rings… it's an itch… and we have to scratch it!

I’d like to offer this correlation- take it or leave it… The more time you spend on your phone… the less in touch you are with your true north, and God’s sense of purpose and direction for your life.

I can hear all the excuses; the: “yeah buts,” the: “There’s so much good that happens on my phone.” The: “It’s a great ministry tool.” The: “It’s how I stay connected.” The: “Got to have it… for my kids… what happens if they’re in an accident.” The: “Got to have it for work (i.e. ‘cause I’m so important)” But the real truth is that we’re bored. We can’t stand doing anything. And most of all, we crave the constant affirmations and connectivity they bring.

The problem with phones is they give us other people’s thoughts, views, opinions, and purposes. Social media gives us the world’s view of what’s important. Most often, when we follow the popular crowd of social media, we cannot see, hear, or know God’s direction and purpose in our lives. The Holy Spirit leads through quietness and trust. Not through business, popularity, or what’s trending.

May we all learn to listen to that still, small, quiet voice of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit leads and guides us to true north. May we consciously set aside our phones throughout the day and listen instead to the voice of scripture.

May we trust, obey, and follow God’s leading.

-- Rollie J.

Lean not on your own understanding, but Trust in the Lord with all your heart. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,
Along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. Isaiah 42:16

The Lord says: In repentance and rest is your salvation,
In quietness and trust is your strength.” Isaiah 30:15
Whether you turn to the right of to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying “This is the way; Walk in it!” Isaiah 30:21
Thus says the Lord; Stand at the crossroads, and look,
And ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies;
And walk in it, and find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6;16
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and It will be given to you. James 1:5

When we are guided by a clear sense of who we are in God, listening to our life and paying attention to God’s Spirit within us, our Yeses and Noes come from a deep place of knowing ourselves and trusting God’s guidance from within. We may say NO because we know what Yeses are to yet be said. We may also say NO because there is no inner nudge toward a particular opportunity. The goal is to cooperate with God’s activity in the world, to be instruments of peace, to live in the Truth, to say Yes to the stirrings of God’s Spirit within us, to love God with all our hears, and souls and minds anour neighbor as our selves.

Jeremiah’s words suggest that when we walk in God’s way there will be rest in the core of our being. Love replaces fear. The urge to compare ourselves to others –better or worse- is melted into humility in the presence of God’s love for all. There is freedom to see our own brokenness and giftedness, to accept forgiveness and to forgive.
Lois Lindbloom, Is that you God? Cultivating Discernment as a way of life.


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