By Candy Troutman
One of my favorite quotes: “He who is enslaved to the compass has the freedom of the seas.” This saying was posted 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.” anonymous
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 …
Candy Troutman is an empty nester from Boise, Idaho. She married her high school sweetheart in 1977 and together they raised two fantastic kids, one of whom has recently made her a grandma-in-waiting! She has been an inspirational speaker for about ten years, speaking mainly for churches, women’s events, luncheons and retreats around the Pacific Northwest. An office manager and bookkeeper by trade, she recently joined the ranks of the unemployed and now pursues public speaking full time while operating her own bookkeeping service. She also enjoys singing, and encouraging the elderly.
With her mixed up bold/zesty and bubbly/positive personality, Candy likes to call herself a truthful encourager to women. She has a passion for mentoring women to be their best self.
Candy’s hobbies include scrapbooking, photography and water aerobics. She wholeheartedly believes that the best form of communication is a bright smile.