Candy blogs: One of my favorite quotes: “He who is enslaved to the compass has the freedom of the seas.” This saying has been on my computer monitor at work for many years. It has helped me navigate the sometimes murky ethical waters of the corporate world. But I’ve found that it has many applications in my life.
It took time to come to the realization that “the compass” was not what was restricting my life. For so long I fought against the compass … feeling guilty for not reading the Bible enough, not praying enough, not going to church every Sunday, getting my ears pierced, wearing pants to church, swimming on Sundays, moving my hips when I sang, making out with my boyfriend, liking rock music, dancing, and then later not being the perfect June Cleaver wife and mother, overeating, going to R rated movies. The list is endless. Yes, it was a list.
I felt almost compelled to do these things because I felt restricted. I felt that “the compass” was legalistic and was boxing me in. The longer the list of don’ts, the faster I ran the other way. I hated being told what to do and how to spend my time. But as time passed I grew frustrated at the lack of spiritual power in my life. What did one have to DO anyway to have the dynamic spiritual life I saw in those around me?! I didn’t know where to go next. When had I done enough to gain favor with God? When had I crossed over the line into sin? It was a very confusing time. I was tired from the “doing.” I had swam and paddled and drifted but there was no destination in sight. I was lost on “the seas.” I had ignored the compass.
Recently, I found what I believe to be the original quote from above:
“The slave to the compass has freedom of the seas. The rest must sail close to the shore.” anon
It adds another dimension, doesn’t it? What is sailing close to the shore anyway? Sounds very poetic but how do we apply it in a practical way?
Giving up our rights. We must remember that we aren’t the center of the universe! We cannot look at everything based on how it makes US feel. Sometimes we must give up being right in order to save a relationship. Sometimes we must eliminate our expectations to keep from hurting others or being hurt by others. Sometimes we must put our needs aside for the needs of a loved one. Often we must give up what we want for the good of family, hold an opinion in check because it is poor timing or can’t be expressed without a critical tone, accept people and situations we have no control over and grieve in silence rather than lashing out in hurt or anger.
Abandoning the safety of the shoreline. The future is an unknown. Tomorrow is unknown. This is a breeding ground for fear. We so often step into the future fearfully, looking beside or behind us for the outline of the shore. To me the shore represents the past, the familiar. We’ve always done it a certain way, we’ve always believed this, we’ve always walked a certain path because it is familiar. Living too close to the shore brings living with hurt feelings, needing the approval of others, being bound by needless rules to follow and lists to check off, assuming the worst in others, nursing old grudges, feeling justified in being right at the expense of others, having a reputation as a grumbler, ignoring our God-given value and worth. We are too afraid to try new things, experience it in a different way, make that leap of faith for a deeper walk with Jesus. We use the shore as our reference point instead of the compass. Only the compass can take us into the deep places. If we choose the shoreline, we’ll always be looking behind instead of ahead to the freedom-filled life God has waiting for us.
Over time, the “doing” gives way to the “being.” We’re no longer drawn to the list of do’s and don’ts. The rules are viewed as “training” for ocean sailing! The compass keeps us on course. The result is the wind in our face!
Are we satisfied sailing close to the shore? Or can we hear the mysteries and deepness of the seas calling out to us … the call of freedom? With a compass, we can go anywhere! All we have to do is chart a course, check the compass and off we go … farther and farther from the safety and familiarity of the shoreline. Ahead? The vastness of the seas!
Proverbs 8:27-29 (King James Version)
27 When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: 28 When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: 29 When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth …
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Candy blogs: I have always had some favorite words that evoke certain emotions. They are words that I try to think about and use because they have such a positive impact on me. Words have become even more important in this high tech world; once you send them “out there,” they never go away. One of my favorite words is fragrance.
If you read through the historical books of the Old Testament in reference to required sacrifices, you’ll find this phrase repeated over and over … a pleasing fragrance to God. The definition of fragrance is the quality of being fragrant; a sweet or pleasing scent. Catching a whiff of a winsome fragrance always makes a person stop and take notice … lilacs in the spring, a good-smellin’ man, smoke from a fireplace somewhere in the neighborhood, popcorn in the next cubicle, the air after a rain, a roast in the oven, freshly cut grass.
Sometimes it’s just in passing and sometimes it fills the room but fragrance is always noticed. It is never ignored even if words are never spoken. We want to breathe in a lovely scent and stay close enough to the source to keep breathing it in. Fragrance always leaves an impression. It is usually an indication of cleanliness. Encouraging words, a patient and understanding attitude, acts of kindness, taking time to really know others, spreading cheerfulness, giving perspective … these things leave a pleasing fragrance.
A similar but, oh, so different word is odor. The definition is a disagreeable smell. (I don’t think I’ll make a list here of smells that are disagreeable!) Many of the same things can be said about an odor. It is always noticed and always leaves an impression. One will usually go searching for the source of an odor as it indicates the presence of decay and even death. We tend to avoid odors if we can and a whiff is more than enough. Cross or belittling words, a critical spirit, purposefully hurting another, a demanding attitude, insisting on your own way, gossip … these leave an odor behind.
I am thinking today about which word lingers around me. Jesus, let your presence in my life leave a winsome fragrance everywhere I go.
2 Corinthians 2:14
In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent (having or emitting fragrance; aromatic) with life.
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Candy blogs: Decisions … we can never get away from them. Even getting out of bed is a decision every day. I love the initial interaction between Dorothy and the scarecrow:
Dorothy: Now which way do we go?
Scarecrow: Pardon me, this way is a very nice way.
Dorothy: Who said that? Don’t be silly, Toto. Scarecrows don’t talk.
Scarecrow: [points other way] It’s pleasant down that way, too.
Dorothy: That’s funny. Wasn’t he pointing the other way?
Scarecrow: [points both ways] Of course, some people do go both ways.
We often live our lives this way, trying every new trendy fad or book or teacher or style or method or diet or philosophy. Think of the people in your life whom you admire. Are they blown about by every new wind or are their lives centered and grounded? These people seem to understand that who and where they are today are the direct result of innumerable daily decisions.
“A full life is lived in the moment of decision, and in that moment you either journey closer to where you want to go or you move farther away.”
The importance of this quote by Julie Clinton in her devotional book, “Living God’s Dream for You,” can only mean something if we have already decided where we want to go. If we’re just drifting through our days letting time pass with no intention behind them, we won’t even know if we’re moving closer or further away. We let this lack of purpose rule our tomorrows.
If we “decide” to sleep late, that decision will affect all the moments ahead: kids missed the bus, late to work, missed appointment, skipped breakfast, lost productivity.
If we “decide” to procrastinate and watch TV instead of finish a project, that decision will affect all the moments ahead: nagging guilt, weak presentations due to lack of preparation, not inviting others into our home because our house isn’t picked up, feeling the pressure of being too close to a deadline.
If we “decide” to allow the opinions of others to dictate our self worth instead of fully knowing who we are and how we are gifted, it will affect all the moments ahead: assuming someone doesn’t like us, being all things to all people, missing opportunities for friendship and growth.
In my own life, I have made some decisions about where I believe I should be headed. I’ve spent the last several months researching and connecting and learning about what it will take to head in that direction. After interacting with others on the same path and hearing God’s voice through His Word and His people, my next step is to actually DO the things I’ve been learning about! I won’t get very far down the road if I’m just reading and Facebooking and IM’ng. I have to step out onto the road, baby!
So yesterday, at the invitation of a friend, I went to a BNI (Business Networking Int’l) lunch. I love meeting new people but this was the first time I actually introduced myself to the world as an Inspirational Speaker! And they took me seriously! They actually wanted my business card. Listening to all the other business people introduce themselves and their businesses, I began to realize that there were other things I could consider speaking about besides Christian women’s topics. These people needed help in areas I have expertise in. I had never considered this before. Being at the luncheon also made me realize I have some work to do on my basic 60 second commercial! I went away excited but scared … what if someone at the luncheon actually asked me to speak at one of their functions?! LOL As I’ve had time to reflect, the Lord’s voice came quietly. He’ll be with me as I walk on this new road He’s called me to.
My past decisions have brought me to today. Some of today I’m pleased with and some I’m not. But God is allowing me enough of a glimpse of what is possible to encourage me to “decide” to make better use of my time. Today’s decisions will rule tomorrow. What do I want tomorrow to look like?
What will your tomorrow be?
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