Marine vessels and aircraft, (even in the era of satellite navigation), still rely, to some extent on the use of the magnetic compass.
A vessel or aircraft’s compass can develop a deviation error and give an inaccurate directional heading if not accounted for and corrected.
For ship at seas; “Deviation is the problem of compass error due to structure of the vessel, proximity of metal objects, magnetic fields or electrical equipment. It may be influenced by loading cargo (e.g. canned fruit) or having repair work done (new metal parts or electronics). Deviation also varies with the ship’s head (way it is pointing) as this changes the position of the magnetic fields in the boat relative to the earth’s magnetic field as well as it’s relationship with interfering objects onboard.
Individual vessels have individual deviation cards that show the adjustment required for changes in position of the vessel’s head. The process used to produce a deviation card is called ‘swinging the compass’.”; Quoted from “Coastal boating .net”
As with a ship at sea, because of the presence of a sinful nature within as well as the incessant pressure of worldly’ temptations and trials without, the Christian is in constant of peril of taking a false bearing and sailing in the wrong direction.
Every ‘false heading’ we take in our spiritual voyage will lead us further away from the heavenly harbor and result in shame, sorrow and loss.
We retard our progress and growth in the Christian life and experience the loss of peace and joy in Christ.
We are often unaware of how much we are affected by things that seem in themselves harmless, such as “worldly” pleasures and pursuits.
We find ourselves “all at sea” because we have lost our bearings in the storm of life and forget our ultimate destination as Christians. We ignore the “map” and “compass” God has provided and no wonder we end up perilously close to the “breakers”.
Our own innate self reliance is also an ever present danger because most of us have an inflated opinion of our abilities, instincts and intuitions.
Affected as they are by sin and human frailty our opinions and assessments of the right course of action to take in a given situation are not always one hundred percent reliable.
When we do lose our sense of direction in life our natural tendency is that we may just follow the crowd in the hope that they are heading the right way, yet they may themselves be happily drifting with wind and tide.
It is only when we take a “sextant” reading of God through His Word ,assisted by prayer and “swing the compass” of our hearts and minds that we can reset the course of our lives.
Aided by the Spirit’s power, working in our hearts and minds, we can counter balance and overcome the sinful influences and temptations that cause us to go veer “off course”.
Out of the Depths.
Continuing a nautical theme.
It is not wholly or solely due to our own lack of consideration and naivety that we can find ourselves in spiritual peril and “all at sea”.
The prophet Jonah, having refused the heading set for him by God instead charted an “inverse” course towards Tarshish, far away from the path of duty.
Through the means of a typhoon at sea and a terrified ship-master and crew , the prophet is confronted by and convicted of his own disobedience and reminded of the inescapable power of the One whom he worshipped and served.
In the hope of appeasing the “Hebrew” God “who made the sea and dry land” and thus quiet the sea, save the ship and those on board, the wayward prophet is , reluctantly , thrown over the side by the terrified crew.
Sinking into the bottomless depths, instead of drowning miserably, the prophet is swallowed by a “divinely” prepared “great fish” and finds himself alive and whole ,if only in exceedingly unpleasant and uncomfortable circumstances.
It was indeed a reprieve, but it must have certainly seemed to Jonah that it was not the end of the life-threatening danger facing him.
The Scriptural account reveals to us many things about Jonah that are not admirable or worthy of imitation yet underlying all there is shown, implanted in the core of his being ,true faith in God and the certain knowledge of his power and willingness to save, despite all indications and appearances to the contrary.
That the prophet “prayed” in such circumstances may not have been remarkable: many lesser men and women have done the same in less perilous occurrences.
That he prayed in such an environment says a great deal about Jonah’s understanding of the omniscience and omnipresence of God, in this he puts many of us to shame.
The remarkable thing is that, despite the recollection of his disobedience and overwhelming sense of guilt and sinfulness in fleeing from God, he still felt able to cry out in prayer to the One who had prepared this chastisement and hurled this judgment upon him.
Even in this awful place and circumstance Jonah still owned Him as “Lord and My God”.
Regardless of what happened to Jonah from now on, the fundamental truth of God’s merciful and forgiving nature combined with His unfailing love for his people, (the prophet among them) was the rock that kept his head above water. It did not matter how much the storm raged around him and how far the folly of his own nature led him astray, He was not beyond the love and power of God.
The same God who had prepared the storm and delivered the prophet from drowning in the “sea” of his own disobedience ,through the unlikely means of a “great fish” , was the same Almighty Saviour who would restore Jonah to the world of men and set him once again upon the path of obedience.
And so to the glory of God and the admiration of his grace it proved when the “great fish”, in obedience to divine command, vomited the prophet up on a foreign shore.
In the same way when we have fled away from God and the way of righteousness and obedience, we can still call upon Him in the knowledge that even when we are faithless, He is faithful. He will hear the prayer of faith and speed to our deliverance.
It is always dangerous to sin willfully and presumptuously, even so, we are not, in this life beyond the mercy and grace of Christ, if only we will in faith cry out unto Him “out of the depths”.
I confess my debt to Joseph S. Excell and his work on Jonah for setting the theme of the preceding.
“The Condiments of the Season”
Even the felonious “Chief Weasel” in the “Thames television” animation of “Wind in the Willows” felt the need to call a truce, in their mutual ill-feeling with Badger, Mole and Ratty and wish them the “condiments” of the “festered season” and a “preposterous ” New Year.
In a more serious vein, with the “Christmas” season here, we can only sorrow at the prevailing ignorance and culpable misrepresentation that attends the “Worlds” celebration of Christ’s birth.
The same sinful “mankind” that bids God depart, flouts His law and neither seeks or desires knowledge of His ways, still plays lip service to the “incarnation” of His Son.
Let us all pray that despite themselves and through the secret working of the Spirit of Truth , the testimony of believers and the preaching of the Word, many will see past the “tinsel” of falsehood and come to a true and saving knowledge and faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ.