By Mark Callaghan

GPS and finding true north for life’s journey

Ah, the wonders of the modern GPS, giving guidance by that still, small, electronically generated voice – hassle free navigation to any part of the globe ... unless of course, you have been directed to a road with a bridge washed away, or yet to be built ... as happened to a friend in Illinois, America.

compass

The Global Positioning System makes use of the geographical lines of latitude and longitude to provide coordinates for location and destination. These lines have been accurately plotted for about 350 years, and enabled the era of world exploration, circumnavigation and colonization.

For Latitudes, we have two fixed points - the North and South poles. However, confusion arises because the compass points to Magnetic North in the Arctic Sea, when the Geographic or Geodetic North is some 500 kilometres away in Canada.

Longitudes, the East-West coordinates, are complicated by Earth's rotation, and the lack of a natural starting point. An arbitrary spot, the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, UK, was chosen as Longitude zero degrees, the Prime Meridian. Everywhere else is measured from that Greenwich line of longitude.

And so we have a way to fix our coordinates, and plot a course with confidence.

Today I hear the commonly used term "Moral Compass", a euphemism for 'conscience'. A compass is only useful if it can detect and give an accurate reading of "True North". Any strong magnet placed close to a compass will cause the needle to point to the magnet – North no longer exerts sufficient pull on the needle. The compass may well point, but its usefulness is lost if it cannot indicate a fixed point from which to plot the journeys of life.

Many today have been influenced by cultural magnets placed close to their compass – True North is skewed. With the multitude of spiritual and cultural magnets vying for North ... it is often a case of not being able to see the wood for the trees. The compass needle can spin wildly.

In multi-cultural Australia we still retain the right to choose our spiritual journey and the road upon which to travel, a freedom worth fighting for. Lewis Carroll wrote, "If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there".

Since 1611, the printed Bible has become the most widely read book in the West. It has provided "True North" for generations who have chosen it, and a fixed point to guide our nation-makers.

As Bible literacy becomes less common, the 'Moral Compass' becomes less reliable, if for no other reason than that it is highly individualistic. There are no absolutes, no givens, and no Polar stars by which to fix our course. Life is multiple choice.

The Apostle James describes God the Father as one "who does not change like shifting shadows". My own journey of faith began when I entrusted my destiny to Jesus Christ, described in the letter to Hebrew Christians as "the same yesterday, today and forever".

There is security in getting to know the unchangeable God. We have our ups and downs but God remains faithful, even when we are not, because it is His nature. It is comforting to know God can be trusted.

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