Chapter 1

Finding True North

The only hope a sailor has of surviving a storm and navigating an ocean is to have a fixed reference point that enables him to discover where he is and where he is heading. The first navigators kept in sight of land, using familiar landmarks. When mariners dared to push beyond the sight of land, they still needed to find a fixed point of reference. So they looked to the heavens. As knowledge grew and celestial navigation developed, the primary reference point for navigators in the Northern Hemisphere became the North Star, Polaris.

Modern technology has changed the process. Sextants and compasses have given way to electronic navigation and the Global Positioning System (GPS). But the principle remains the same. The reference points for the GPS are a network of satellites that send out signals, which a receiver then uses to compute latitude, longitude, and even altitude. Those satellites have precisely fixed and reliable orbits.

Our North Star is the triune God revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ. We possess the words and works of Jesus in the Bible. In it we can hear his voice. We stand at the cross and wonder at the depth of his love. We stand before the open tomb and recognize his power. We have his Spirit living within us to personalize his presence. He is the fixed point, the North Star, or, to use his description of himself, “the bright Morning Star” (revelation 22:16).

Our North Star enables us to live well. This is true whether we are in relatively familiar waters with familiar landmarks comfortably in sight or we find ourselves in uncharted waters with nothing visible on the horizon. It is our focus on Christ that will keep us on course. That can easily sound like a pious platitude, but in the middle of a storm it becomes an urgent necessity.