By: Mike White
Years back as a kid, I went fishing with my dad and two uncles in the Gulf of Mexico. We launch bayside on Galveston Island, hit the Gulf through San Luis Pass and headed out to some off-shore oil rigs about 45miles out. It was a typical summer day, sunny, hot and little wind.
Once we reached the first off-shore platform, the first order of business was to use a homemade rig to catch bait. My Uncle Punt had fashioned a rig that somewhat resembled a leader with what looked like the flies you would throw to catch trout in a river. These "flies" ran up and down the leader. Today rigs like this are known as Sabiki Rigs or Flasher Rigs.
As the anointed the official bait catcher, Uncle Punt gave me a quick lesson and I dropped the bait rig over the side. Once in the water, I simply raised and lowered it a couple of times and pulled in a load of bait. The prize bait we were after are called "Hard Tails" or Blue Runners. They are a great bait. For one thing they are a hardy fish and tend to stay alive in a live-well, second, they are an awesome bait for everything from Kingfish and Ling (Cobia) all the way to sailfish.
Once we had all the bait we needed, we began to fish. I was too small to real in the larger fish they began to catch. As I recall, we were mostly catching Kings and Lings. My dad, my uncles and I were having a big time. The fishing was good and the company even better. We had been at it for a couple of hours when without warning, a huge thunderstorm, or squall as they are call on the seas, seemed to blow in from nowhere.
Within minutes, the temperature dropped, hurricane like winds hit and the seas that were merely rolling minutes prior were now were topped with white foam and crashing against the boat. The rain came in sideways and in blinding sheets that stung when it hit me. It was bad.
My uncle fire up the engine in a desperate attempt to outrun the rest of the incoming storm and hit the gas. We hadn't been headed back in very long when either we took a lightning strike to an antenna or it was close enough to fry what little electronics were on a boat back in the day. In a single booming flash, we were flying blind...well almost.
As most everyone does, my uncle had a compass mounted on his control panel. He used the compass to safely guide us on back to Galveston. His use of the compass didn't take us exactly where we needed to be but it got us out of the squall and to land where we easily found our way back to the ramp. I am not sure my mom ever allowed me to go deep-sea fishing with my dad and uncles again.
I learned a lesson on this fishing trip, I always carry a small pocket compass anytime I go to fish or hunt where there is a possibility of getting lost. Yes, I have a GPS but there are too many things that can go wrong with electronics. That little cheap compass is my security blanket, it doesn't have batteries to go low or circuits to crash if I get it wet. I know that I can rely on it.
I have a second compass I rely on too, my bible. My pocket compass always points north. My spiritual compass always points to truth.
Looking at the bible and the scriptures contained in it keeps me morally straight and on the right path. When I lose focus and stumble off the path, I use the bible as a map to help me return and stay in God's will.
It's important to understand that my spiritual compass doesn't make me go on any path. As captain, I can always make a choice to follow another route. Both intentionally and not, I have followed poor routes that haven't led me to safe harbor. In fact, on more than one occasion, the route I chose without consulting my spiritual compass led me to dangerous coasts where I felt like I was being bashed against ragged rocks by the waves. Times like this left me feeling like I was struggling to keep my head above water and unable to catch my breath.
But, in the end, by using my compass, I always find my way back to safety and avoid becoming lost at sea.
As Christians, we are blessed to have a spiritual compass in God. When we are lost, when we are tempted or when we are flailing to simply keep our heads above water, we have to cling to Him. Without God, we either stay lost or drown. However, when we hold tight, keep our faith, and consult our compass we come out the other side of the storm safe and a better captain. The storm makes us wiser and stronger. We appreciate our compass more and have a renewed faith inits workings. However, no matter how wise or strong we become, we will always need our compass.