Spiritual Declination- the angular deviation of the direction your emotions or “feelings” pull you from the Word of God.
When I was a little boy, my daddy gave me a very fascinating gift. It didn’t look like much. Just a small, metallic, circular tube about ¼ inch thick and perhaps the circumference of a half dollar. It looked at first glance like a plain pocket watch, with a stringy leather strap attached. You could see inside the tube, through its tiny glass face that it had a painted bottom, with the letters N, E, S, W proudly displayed in a clockwise fashion, and atop that face was little floating arrow. The pointy end was painted red, and no matter which direction you turned the tube, the little arrow with the red point, kept pointing in the same direction. I was fascinated! It was the first compass I had ever seen. My dad explained briefly how to use it, and told me to always trust the compass, (regardless of my instincts) and I’d never get lost.
Very simply stated, like all magnets that are attracted to opposite poles, the tiny needle of a compass is a magnet that is attracted to the magnetic pull from the north pole. The fascinating thing is how sensitive it must be, and depending on how you look at it, how strong the pull from the north pole has to be! It seems like if it were such a strong pull, it would tug at everything attracted to a magnet… and if the needle of the compass is so sensitive, it would be disrupted by every refrigerator magnet or pocket magnet in the world!
Nevertheless, if you’ve ever been lost (or in the military) you know that you can trust that floating little needle to point you in the right direction, night or day. It almost always points north. However, it would never get you to the north pole!
This is where it gets interesting. The magnetic tug from the earth is actually not coming from the north pole, which is called “true north”. The magnet points to a different location about 1,000 miles south of the pole called “magnetic north”. Navigators know this, and they also know that “magnetic north” isn’t even a stationary point! It moves!
In order for a navigator to really get where he’s going, he has to know “the angle of declination”. The difference between true north and magnetic north for wherever he’s at. Also referred to as “variation”, there is also local variation that interferes with the compass. If the compass holder is too close to metallic objects it can distort the accuracy of the sensitive little needle…
I’m writing this, because as I contemplated the inner workings of the compass, I was reminded of a few different things that the Bible tells us… We are led, drawn, guided, directed by the working of the Spirit. Inside all of us, there’s a tug. It pulls us in the right direction. We are emotional people, and we are directed by our feelings and emotions. “I feel led by the Spirit…” Jesus said that if He were lifted up, He would draw all men… One translation reads, “I will make all men want to come to me…”
However, just as there is a “true” north and a “magnetic” north, this tug on our emotions will often get us headed in the right general direction, but we still need to do a calibration. This is where I came up with the idea of “spiritual declination”. As with the compass there are things in our lives that will distract us, deter us, and cause deviation from our destination. We find ourselves being led astray, and not arriving at exactly where we want to be spiritually. The reason for this is that our feelings and emotions are imperfect. They’re too sensitive. Too easily distracted. There’s too much variance… Therefore, we have been given a “true north” in the spiritual world. It’s the Word of God and it always trumps feeling. The Word is immensely valuable as a tool of navigation in this life. It is the lamp to our feet and the light to our pathway. Without knowing the Word, we will never really arrive at the destination that God has for us.
In summary; Magnetic North is my feeling. True North is the Word of God…. Navigators know how to make corrections on their journey because they actually know the deviations between true north and magnetic north for wherever they are at. And we must know the Word in order to utilize it on our journey. Always check your feelings with His Word. Because feelings will only almost always steer us in the right direction!
Marine. Husband. Christian. Father. Pastor. A Real Man helping masculine men find their place in God’s Kingdom, without sacrificing masculinity to do it.