True north

At 8:18 tonight, the view from the plane window is stunning.

I’m on a small return flight from Boston, my first trip of the year. The darkness of the cabin has driven the few passengers into private worlds of screens, sleep and, in my case, reflection. I’m tired from the session I worked today. And, to be honest, more than a little daunted by the prospect of starting over a new year – setting the odometer and tally sheet to zero again.

This weariness goes deeper, though. This sense of joyless pursuing – of picking up my heavy backpack (and on trips like this, literally true) and trudging solitarily after things – has lately wormed its way into my relationship with God. It feels like work. Work that I have to do alone. This small dark flight fits my mood of isolation.

But then I look out of the window.

Oh, the beauty! Below, a low canopy of clouds had diffused the intricate patterns of city and town lights so that now all that remains of them are smeary glows – like phosphorescent patches on a soft seabed, repeating randomly to the horizon. It is a strange and wondrous sight.

And the stars! They are brilliant diamonds in a sable sky. And there is the Big Dipper, balanced awkwardly on its handle. I follow its pointers to Polaris, the North Star, high enough in the sky I have to scrunch down to see it through my portal.

Earlier in the day, I captured a conversation my client had about setting a North Star. It’s a common analogy in the sessions I do. Thinking back about what I put on the board, I realize it is universally accurate: we do all have unmet needs. We do all want to have something true we’re following after.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)

In the darkness, my wonder turns to worship. Jesus, you are my North Star. You are everything I want to be. In that longing, I find a deep sense of inadequacy. Worship becomes confession, mingled with the sweet relief of letting go. He is not simply a brilliant, distant perfection for us to use as guidance. Through the Spirit, Jesus dwells inside each of us. The light has shown in our hearts.

It’s the reminder I needed tonight. I’m not just heading toward something, but with someone.

Jesus, you are our North Star – the perfection we long for. But you are so much more. You haven’t left us to work out our own salvation alone. You indwell us. How we thank you for your power and presence!

I would love to hear your thoughts and comments. Email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. And if you liked this, please use the buttons above to share it

Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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