During World War II, a group Air Force soldiers flew south from Italy across the Mediterranean to North Africa. A strong tail wind quickly took them over and past their destination. They didn’t believe their compass and ran out of fuel in the great Sahara Desert. Some years later, their wreckage was found along with their skeletons.
A compass is simply an instrument for showing direction. Outdoorsmen and other navigators know what a compass is and how to use it. Not every compass is in a neat little round case with a moving needle that always points to magnetic north. In a broader sense, our compass is our guide, whatever it is that keeps us on the right path. It’s somewhat akin to a ruler, a tuning fork, a plumb line or an Atomic clock. It’s the correct standard. It tells us when we’re off track and how to set things straight.
Everybody has a compass; maybe not a magnetic compass, but some form of internal guide or code. In life our compass is what keeps us on the right path. For a growing number of people the compass is self. I’m my own guide. It’s my life; I’ll do with it what I want. I’ll decide what’s right or wrong.Sociologists have long taught that there are no absolutes. They say everything is relevant and that everything depends on our own perspective. Hence, no absolutes, no immorality or morality; everything is amoral (neutral). Many political scientists insist that the state is the real compass of any society. The state decides what’s right and wrong. Do what the state says. If you don’t, you are wrong and the state has a right to deal with you accordingly. If the state says it is okay to go against God’s Word and allow abortions and homosexuality, then it is right.
Ignoring a compass can prove fatal. Failure to have a reliable compass can be just as disastrous and lead to dire consequences. Individuals and nations that lean on self, popular opinion or the state for their direction ultimately face confusion and chaos. For example, strong voices in society tell us that an unborn baby is a fetus, not a person. They cloud the issue of the sanctity of the life of a human being with women’s rights. They argue that a woman has a right over her own body but ignore the right to life of the baby. Even our Supreme Court agrees with this line of thinking.
However, the unthinkable occurred. Ariel Castro kidnapped three young girls in Cleveland, Ohio and held them in the basement of his neighborhood house as sex slaves for ten years. They were raped, beaten and tortured. Amanda Barry has a six-year old child by him. Five times Castro impregnated Michelle Knight and then each time he systematically starved and beat her in the stomach until she miscarried. Ohio chief prosecutor Timothy McGinty has now charged Castro with murder.
There is no question that Castro deserves the death penalty. However, the case illustrates the stark inconsistent, contradictory and hypocritical ways of a society without a reliable compass. Every day in America over 3,000 innocent babies are murdered in legal abortion clinics. Who could miss the awful killings by Dr. Kermit Gosnell in Philadelphia? Doesn’t it seem strange that on one hand our society and nation says it is perfectly okay to kill a fetus (unborn baby) in an abortion while on the other hand it says it is murder to kill an unborn baby by beating a mother in the stomach? How can it be a fetus in one situation and a baby in the other? How can a mother and doctor who kill an unborn baby be protected by the law while a person who kills an unborn baby by kicking a mother in the stomach be considered a murder by the same law? Contradictory and hypocritical; no doubt about it, but it’s the sad state of a society and nation which has thrown away its reliable compass!
Any time a nation or an individual depends on an unreliable compass trouble is just ahead! When man does that which is right in his own eyes chaos is certain. “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17). Every nation and every man needs a reliable compass. Human reasoning is not reliable. “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12).
Today America is repeating what a great many other nations and societies before us have experienced. We’ve deserted the reliable compass upon which we were founded and we are paying a high price. Unless we wake up and reverse this trend things will worsen.
The Bible is God’s Word and it is a reliable compass. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). For centuries it was America’s guide. Multitudes have made the Bible their personal compass. It shows the way to heaven. It points to honesty, unselfishness, humility, a good work ethic, responsibility and general integrity. It guides people to morality, good character, good stewardship and basic human respect and values. Our country and world desperately need this compass.
Do you need a reliable compass for your life? There is just one. I challenge you to follow the Word of God; it will never fail you. It will help you in more ways than you might suspect. “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).