Following The Compass

by: Nikki Vermeer

The navy blue sky dimly lit, without a cloud in sight, the stars are still somewhat visible as the night begins to recede its blanket of darkness. I glance at my watch that is still too tightly clasped to my wrist and note the time: 06:34, nautical twilight. I shuffle through the trunk of my car and pull out my gear for this morning: backpack, camera, thermos of my favorite hot coffee, flashlight, water bottle, hand-woven blanket that keeps even the most bitter morning winds from piercing my body and a small snack pack. That should be about it. I tighten the straps of my hiking pack around my shoulders and fasten the clasp around my waist, feeling the weight of the bag. Flashlight in one hand, compass in the other; I head out.

As I put one foot in front of the other, I survey the peak of the mountain I am determined to reach and begin the journey upward. It is still cold in the air and the fog I see as I exhale shows me that winter is making one last feeble attempt to linger a little longer. The forest floor is still covered in leaves that crunch with each step as I hike up the steep mountain side. I catch a glimpse of a white-tailed deer and its doe, but the snapping of tree branches underfoot alerted them of my presence as they scurry away. As the sun begins to warm the air and brighten the sky, I can now see the tiny buds of green on the trees that hold the promise of something new. It's 07:04, civil twilight. I take a deep breath and the smell of fresh pine and spring makes me excited for what is ahead as I transition into a new time. I am over half way there as I stop for a brief moment to take a sip of my now lukewarm water from my CamelBak bottle–its long scratches on the surface remind me of the many adventures had and places explored. As I begin walking again, I realize I have lost sight of the peak in the midst of the 50-foot pine and spruce trees that probably hold three time as much history as my own life. The objective has not changed, but circumstances around me have blocked my vision and left me without a visual guide. How can I move forward if I can't see? I know I must press on trusting the compass in my hand to guide me. This little round tool is not a promise of an easy journey, but it is, however, a guarantee of correct direction. With one foot in front of the other, I continue on to the top of the mountain.

I know I have two choices: go back or press on trusting the compass in my hand to guide me. This little round tool isn't a promise of an easy journey, but it is, however, a guarantee of correct direction.

Just a few more steps ... I can feel my heart rate accelerating as I finally reach a clearing and can see the peak of the mountain once again. Almost there! I hesitantly glance at my watch: 07:24. The sun is now just a few degrees below the horizon and minutes from declaring the start of another day. I find a flat boulder, throw the blanket around my shoulders, grab my coffee and wait ... the sun's rays stretch across the infinite horizon and the moment is surreal. As I sip the coffee in the full radiance of the sun, my mind illuminates with thought.

The peak of the mountain never moved or changed, but like so many things in life, the promise of reaching a destination can become blurred or invisible depending on the journey you take to get there. When you lose sight of what is ahead, are you lost and paralyzed in fear or do you remember that you have the key to getting there? Is your hope hinged on your sight of the promise or is your hope truly in God? Hope is directly related to your freedom from fear in chasing your objective! Let your faith and hope be rooted in God and nothing else. He is unshakeable and as a result, your faith will also be.

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Hope is directly related to your freedom from fear in chasing your objective!

God's Word has not promised that the path would be easy, but He did promise He would guide you. Whether or not you see the destination, you will never be alone! As the seasons change and you transition between environments in which you can see and those in which you must step in faith, be encouraged! The result is always worth the pursuit! Do not grow weary, but be strengthened in Him and in due time you will reap what you have sown!

"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song." Psalm 28:7 (NIV)