Good faith works just like a compass

(Photo: Getty/iStock)

I can still recall my first orienteering event ever. I was a fresh 20 year old, completing a degree in Outdoor Education at university. Part of the unit of work was to undertake an organised competition.

Myself and two friends entered the women's team event. We bumbled along to the YouYangs, a beautiful national park in Victoria. I was amazed at the community gathered for such an event on a brisk autumn day.

We were one of many groups and individuals who spent three hours running around a designated course, and we collected the various pins and markers needed to complete the race successfuly.

So many elements are needed for a successful orienteering race - map navigation, teamwork, endurance, compass work. Using the compass helps orientate the map (which direction is north), helps orientate yourself (which way you are facing). It also helps point you in the direction to travel to next.

Compasses work on the premise of being aligned with the magnetic fields in the Earth's core. The natural magnetic pull of the Earth aligns the compass and helps steer you in the right direction.

Other metal objects, however, can interfere with this and as such using a compass near a large metal object such as a car can obscure the results of the compass. A compass can actually be 're-wired' to point in a false direction by stroking a piece of metal along the compass repeatedly.

The constant repeated action of striking the magnet in one direction can alter the magnet's directional pull as it slowly aligns the fragments of metal in the compass to align with the new piece of metal striking it instead of its natural direction.

The Bible says in Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things."

We are told to meditate, to seek constantly the things which are good. Meditation and the act of meditating is repeated as a command to believers throughout the Bible, using God's word as the subject for meditation.

To meditate means to 'chew on the cud', to 'mull over' or 'ruminate' on something. I like the picture of a cow chewing on cud. Cows have four stomachs. Upon first ingesting the grass they eat, the food then goes through a process of regurgitation, meditation, and then digestion through the intestines.

First ingesting a thought, you usually take it in, then meditating on this may be thinking upon the idea or thought throughout the day. Thinking on things generally makes them stronger. The Bible is full of passages encouraging meditation on God's word. However the reverse is also true, meditating and ruminating on poor thoughts will also strengthen these negative thoughts.

Strike a Magnet

I believe meditating on things is like the striking of a magnet. Each time you think upon a thought, event, person or idea, you are striking your inner compass to become more aligned with that way of thinking. If you repeat this process over a long amount of time, constantly 'striking' the inner magnet with repeated thoughts in one direction, you will eventually start to turn in that direction.

As the Bible says, constantly think on good thoughts, and I believe your outlook will be positive. However constantly thinking on bad thoughts, emotions and interactions, the outlook of your life will be pointed in the opposite direction.

Difference in orientation

This explanation may also help explain why sometimes you meet someone with a contrastingly different viewpoint or set of opinions to you and you cannot understand their logic. You, through life experience, events, education and family upbringing will have a natural tendency to see the world in a certain orientation.

Another person's own individual life experience, events, education and family upbringing will differ from yours. Repeated constant thought and rumination on certain thoughts and viewpoints can lead us to change our mindsets. But we can re-orientate. Romans 12:2 says to "be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."

We have the chance and the choice daily to orient our lives and our minds. A compass doesn't change it's orientation overnight, but through small repeated strokes of another magnet over time it can be re-orientated. Likewise our lives can be re-orientated if we take the time everyday to focus on where we want to head to, and capture the thoughts we ruminate on that don't help us get there.