I was never a Girl Scout. The badges I earned where by being a latch-key kid, growing up in Southern California with a mom who was forced back into the work force after divorce, and three brothers who I loved dearly but all who had their own challenges to find direction in life. Thankfully, they did. We all did.
I remember, around the age of nine, becoming intrigued by a lesson taught to me in the third grade. The whole concept that there was this gadget that could find the magnetic polarization of the earth and tell, just by holding it in your hand, what direction you were facing when you walked, fascinated me. It was as though I had discovered one of the keys to life. As unlikely as it was at the time, if I were ever lost in the woods, out on the sea, or on a Los Angeles freeway, all I needed was to have a compass in my pocket. It seemed powerful to me.
Of course, I survived my childhood without being physically lost somewhere. I never actually needed to keep a compass handy. I made my way learning to watch for signs along the road, or from lessons learned, that kept me pretty well on the right path. The world tried to distract me, and sometimes it did. But thus far, I think I have made it okay.
Thankfully, I knew instinctively early enough in my life, how to find true North. I also was blessed with a grandmother who taught by example that as long as I followed God, I would know that I am heading in the right direction.
I am not writing this to say that I am more qualified than someone else to proclaim what is the right path to take. We each have our own truth, our own distinctive way at looking at life and knowing right from wrong, North from South, the world’s ways from God’s. I will admit, however, that I can’t help but question why people do certain things. I wonder if their compass has become bent in some way. There are detours that seem so senseless; and yet people take them, rushing headlong onto paths that lead no where but hurt.
We all know someone, have loved someone, who challenges our own sense of life’s proper direction. Somehow, they seem willing to defy the rules, to challenge the power that guides us, to redirect their paths so that they flow against the natural currents of righteousness. It’s as if they break the glass of their internal compass and deface the markers. They purposely go in directions that will get them lost.
Oh, how I wish that God would give me the words that I might shout in warning to people I have known, “You’re headed the wrong way!” I wish that I could save them from the trauma of cruising at full speed down dead end roads, or from so causally crossing boundaries that lead to dark, difficult days. I have learned the hard way that some people choose to not heed warnings, and that their ears and hearts are closed no matter how desperate we are to reach them.
The only thing I know for sure to do, is not to judge them, but love them anyway. And most of all, to pray for them.
How easy it is to get off track. How appealing it is to cast away cares, to live in the moment, to give into temptation, break covenants, betray someone… The world says it’s okay. We celebrate our free spirits and elevate the icons of celebrity who show us how it’s done. To live well, we think, is to be masters of our own universe.
I know people who have lived life at full tilt, where all that mattered was the party, and they were intent on making it a good one. Until something happened, and suddenly they were brought to their knees. Only then did they discover what God had been trying to teach them all along. He would lead them to discover a life a richer than anything they had ever known before. They were transformed.
On the other side, I know of good folks who have long-lived faithfully, and then at whim, sacrificed everything — their families, their wellbeing, their legacies, just to partake of the world and what they feel they were missing out on. Without care or concern, they have seemed to lose all conscience, all means of direction or faith.
God gives us the will to live our lives, to make our decisions, to seek our own directions. And yet, how often does the way of Anything Goes lead to anything good? When we are led away by sin, the path looks inviting, the sun is on our faces, and all our senses are firing at once. What could go wrong?
All I know, is that although we cannot see it with our eyes, the power of True North is real. We don’t have to look at a compass to know the pull that draws us to seek what is right, to find Him, to follow His ways. That is how God designed it. He wants our feet onto the path that leads to Him so that we do not get lost. So that we will find our way home.
Whether you are struggling right now to discern your direction, or you are finding your way out of a storm that was not of your doing, know that God is there. He is pulling you to Him. No matter what way you are facing, you need only to turn to Him in faith and ask Him to lead you out.
When you feel lost, or alone, or ashamed, or broken… turn to Him. His ways are the compass to life to the full. His paths lead to Restoration.
It’s never too late to find your way. He is always True North.