Thursday, September 17, 2015

Planted, Watered & Headed North

Whenever you navigate to some destination, it's critical to be certain of which direction you need to travel in relation to some fixed point of reference. In navigational terms this point of reference is generally the direction "north." By knowing for sure which direction north is, your navigational tool of choice can calculate with accuracy where south, east, west, and all points and directions in between, are. And if followed, a navigational system based on the known direction of north will ultimately help ensure you reach your desired destination.

Sounds simple, right? Not so may not be. In the realm of navigation, north may actually not be North, because it turns out that there are actually different kinds of "north." There is what is known as "magnetic north" and also what is referred to as "true north."

Magnetic north and true north are close to the same, but are inherently different in a way that is especially crucial to accurate navigation. Magnetic north is the direction a compass points, toward the magnetic north pole of the earth (which is different than the "true" north pole). True North, on the other hand, is the direction along the earth's surface towards the geographic (ie, "true") north pole, located right on the actual top of the earth. The problem with using magnetic north to navigate is that it is always moving, and in fact today magnetic north is actually someplace over northern Canada. When pilots and other navigators use magnetic north, they must make sure they factor in a precisely calculated margin of error or else they'll end up miles off course.

This idea of true north and magnetic north seems to me an appropriate concept in relation to many societal issues which have been brewing in our country for some time, and which are plastered without end across news headlines and our collective attention as a nation. All you need to do these days to raise just about anyone's blood pressure is make a definitive statement of any sort about one of a host of popular topics categorized via names and buzz words like (just to scratch the surface): Bruce Jenner, Planned Parenthood, Kim Smith, Michael Sam, Ashley Madison, Same-Sex Marriage, Traditional Marriage, Liberal, Conservative, Religious Freedom, Abortion, Gender Confusion, etc...

I'd like to suggest that it would be infinitely more productive for us to start talking less about the actual topics themselves and more about the differences that exist across the values and life-views underpinning people's opinions on the issues. In other words, I suggest we start talking about what version of north we as a country are using to navigate, how this has shifted over time, and where our presently charted course is taking us.

I suggest we start taking a much closer look at our country's history when considering its trajectory into the future. And forget the Constitution and where our founding fathers would certainly have stood on the sorts of social issues that are dividing our country today. Let's go back even further. Consider for a minute those brave souls who sailed across the Atlantic 400 years ago, landing on Cape Cod and forming the small society that eventually grew into our great nation.

Let's not forget that the pilgrims traveled here on a mission, laser-focused on establishing a new society based expressly on freedom of Christian religious beliefs. In fact, they felt so strongly about the importance of establishing societal order based on their Christian beliefs that they didn't even wait to get off the ship to put their rules of community and government into writing. Before they journeyed out into their new world, these folks wrote and signed the Mayflower Compact which was the governing document of their fledgling society. The Mayflower Compact is beautiful in its brevity and simplicity, and among its few central declarations includes the following:
"In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten...Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; for our better ordering, and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid..."
If we're honest with ourselves, I believe we can't help but see how liberatingly on point this one simple document was for the Pilgrims, and just how refreshingly relevant and on target its precepts remain for us today. The pilgrims didn't need long, wordy documents or endless heated debates to deal with life or to get along and agree on what was best for their society. The short and crisply directive Mayflower Compact was all they needed--not because it contained all the answers, but because in its simple, humble wisdom it pointed to the One who has all the answers: the Lord God Almighty.
Expressly and without question, our country's forebears placed God's authority and His Word above all other authorities. They made prideful reliance on their own beliefs and ideas subject and secondary to humble obedience to God's ideas and beliefs. In short, the pilgrims plotted their course using True North.
This is why they succeeded, and it's why America has enjoyed so much success ever since. But somewhere along the way, we as a country fell asleep at the wheel and veered dangerously off course. We're now barrelling down a new path chasing the deceptively elusive and shifting magnetic north. We've lost sight of True North and, like all lost travelers, are in danger of landing in a destination far from where we intended to go.
But thank God, there is still hope. With God, all things are possible and in His infinite love He longs for us to turn our lives and our country back to Him. In the end, the strength of any tree is always determined by the quality and strength of its roots; I think it's high time we take a long, hard look at ours.
Thanks for reading,