“At the roundabout take the third exit and bear right”. Anyone who owns or has used a satnav is familiar with this kind of instruction. You can even choose the voice that speaks out the directions. It can be a man’s voice. Or a woman’s voice. Our particular model allowed us to change the accent as well. So rather than having an accent straight off the BBC news, we have a soft spoken Irish brogue telling us where we need to turn right or left and what roads we need to follow. Somehow it seems reassuring – even when we don’t end up where we think we should be!
We’ve become so used to the wonders – and blunders – of GPS, that the days of having to read maps seem a long time ago.
Before the days of GPS, the compass was the essential directional tool for the more serious traveller or explorer.
Compasses were in use for hundreds of years. A compass does not give you precise directions. It does not tell you when to turn right or left. It does not speak to you in a male or female voice with a BBC accent or an Irish brogue. It just points in a direction.
When it comes to spirituality, the leading of the Spirit is sometimes, even often, more like a compass than it is like satnav. Certainly, there are times when God gives very clear instructions. At other times, however, He gives us a sense of direction, much like a compass gives to someone on a journey.
Acts 27 records Paul’s journey to Rome. It was a journey that turned out to be fraught with danger. At one point the ship encountered a serious storm that lasted for at least two weeks and, understandably, threw the crew and the passengers into despair.
Paul was not overcome with the hopelessness of those around him. Why? Because he knew that God had called him to go to Rome and therefore he would eventually reach his destination. Because of his confidence, Paul was able to encourage the despairing crew:
‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ 25 So keep up your courage,men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Acts 27.24-25
Paul had been called by God. His calling was his inner compass. Even though everyone else had lost their bearing, Paul retained his sense of direction because his conviction about his calling was stronger than the intimidation of what seemed like a never ending storm.
Every Christian is called (Romans 8.28-30). That calling is our inner compass. And provided we base our sense of direction on what God has done within us and the calling He has given to us, we will retain our sense of direction.
There would be quite a few more days of uncertainty on the ship Paul was sailing on. But uncertainty could not undo Paul’s calling because he stuck with what his inner compass told him. And uncertainty cannot undo your calling. You don’t have to come unstuck, if you stick with your calling – your inner compass.