Where are We Going


Yuka and I used to love backpacking into the Sierra Mountain Wilderness. There are some spectacular trails with scenery that is hard to describe and even good pictures don't quite capture the grandeur and peaceful beauty of it all. 

But without good preparation and planning, things can go horribly wrong and that place of such serenity and beauty can be a terrifying place to be. So, among all the other preparations such as first aid, food, water and shelter, we always brought along a current topographical map and a good compass.

Compass and MapIt's important to know where you are and where you are going and as long as we stayed on the clearly marked trails we never needed to depend on our compass. But part of the thrill of going out into the wilderness is getting off the trails and going cross-country into places rarely traveled by others. Walking up to that hidden mountain lake deep in the Sierra wilderness, far away from the trails, far away from the influences of people is a wonderful experience. Resting with God in a place well-known to Him and only seen by a few others has left a lasting impression on my soul. 

But given a choice, which is more necessary, a compass or a map? If you were going out into a wilderness area and you were forced to make a choice, would you bring a compass or a map?

I recently read an article in which the author claimed that "a compass is better than a map". His thinking was that with a compass you have direction. He said something to the effect that, "If you know your direction you can innovate 'on the fly' to make progress." 

When I read that I was really impressed. Wow, I thought. That's pretty cool. A compass is better than a map. But after thinking about it I'm less convinced than I was before. A compass does, indeed give you direction; But without a map you don't know in what direction you need to go. If I am standing in the middle of an unfamiliar wilderness I can pull out my compass and turn around to survey the landscape and decide to go in any direction. It's true that with my compass I can make Peeler Lakeprogress in that direction but without a map, without some idea of where I am, I might be heading in the wrong direction. My "progress" might be leading me into more danger!

On the other hand, if I have a good map and no compass I should be able to identify landmarks and orientate the map so that it is showing the landscape as it lies. It might be possible to line up a couple of outstanding points in the landscape and triangulate my position and then I can get an idea of where I am and what direction to head. I think that if I had to choose one or the other I would choose the map. However, to be sure, to really be able to find that hidden lake or some other special place, I probably need both the map and the compass . . . and I need to know how to use them together.

If the Bible is our map. Then perhaps the Holy Spirit is our compass. Or, is it the other way around?

This picture is of Peeler Lake. It's an easy to find place but a bit of a difficult hike to get there. On this trip Yuka and I were rewarded with many, many stunning views and I even saw a Bald Eagle flying up through a small canyon and over this lake. Now that we are living in Japan we cannot do this kind of wilderness hiking / camping. Looking forward to the new heaven and new earth in which there will never have been nor will there ever be any sin. I wonder if Papa would like to do some wilderness camping with us?