— Jesus in John 14:6
I’m a morning person. One of my favorite things to do is arise early in the morning when the world is still dark and quiet. I’ll slip out of the house to gaze up at the stars while worshipping the One who created them, created me, created everything that is and ever was. My spirit rises every time I look up into the night sky. Even on cloudy nights when I can’t see the stars it’s comforting to know that even though they are not visible to me at this time they are still there Just as they have been for millennia.
I haven’t invested the time to learn many of the constellations but I can usually find the Starry Plough or Big Dipper and from there the North Star or Polaris. Polaris is not the brightest star in the predawn sky but its constancy is comforting to a wandering, wondering pilgrim like me. In preparation for leading our Class 6 Extreme Missionary Adventures a few years ago I took some outdoor survival courses at BOSS (Boulder Outdoor SurvivalSchool) in Boulder, Utah. During the navigation course we learned to use Polaris as a guide star if lost in the wilderness. Each night on the solo portion of the course I found comfort in Polaris as I camped alone in the vast wilderness of southern Utah. I studied Polaris’s position in relation to the surrounding mountain peaks and other terrain.
This week as I’ve been meditating on Jesus’ words in John’s Gospel I’ve been reminded of another guide star in our lives, one that is even more constant than Polaris. Jesus told his disciples and us, “I am the way” and he often simply said, “Follow me”. Don’t worry about where we are going, how we will get there or other distracting details. Simply trust me and follow me.
In the ever-changing, unpredictable outdoors Polaris is often obscured by clouds, trees or surrounding mountains. However, if we have been paying attention to our surroundings and to where we are headed we will have a general sense of which direction is north. This awareness will be our guide until we once again see Polaris. Likewise, if we truly have been following Jesus, meditating on his Word and doing the things he tells us to do we will have direction, a purposefulness in our lives even during those dark nights of the soul when our guide star, Jesus, is obscured by surrounding circumstances and conflicting desires.