Star trails circling Polaris, Big Bend National Park
Photo by Costa1973 on Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA-2.0

Many of us have GPS systems in our cars or on our phones. They allow us to pinpoint our locations on a map, letting us know exactly where we are.

But in the days before modern technology, how did people navigate? If they needed to cross an ocean, what told them where they were?

The North Star did.

More formally known as Polaris, the North Star is the brightest star in the Ursa Minor constellation. Because it’s almost in a direct line above the Earth’s north celestial pole, the North Star appears to stand motionless in the sky, with the other stars seeming to rotate around it.

This made it a perfect fixed point by which to draw measurements for celestial navigation. In fact, the Old English word for the North Star meant “ship-star,” reflecting its use in helping to chart a course when sailing.

We still need a north star today.

Not to get from point A to point B in our vehicles, but to navigate the seas of our lives. When our whole world has turned topsy-turvy, we need a fixed point to focus on to keep us on a stable course.

If what we’re focussing on is itself unstable, it will get us into trouble. Max Lucado tells an anecdote about a farmer’ son who was put to work plowing a field. His dad told him the secret of plowing in straight lines: pick an object on the far side of the field, keep your eyes fixed on the object, and plow right at it.

Much later, the farmer went to check on how his son was doing. To his annoyance, he found that all the furrows had been plowed in wavy lines.

“I thought I told you to choose an object and plow right at it!” the farmer said.

“I did,” the boy insisted, “but the rabbit kept hopping!”

That boy needed an unmoving target, and so do we if we don’t want to get off-course.

We need to focus on something that can be relied on to be a pole star in our lives, a fixed point that is trustworthy and steadfast.

That fixed point is our Lord Jesus Christ.

“In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:6 ESV)

Scripture tells us that our Saviour is unchanging:

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8 NIV)

We can count on Him to always be there for us, to guide us and to light our way. He is the one we should train our sights on when the storms of life make us lose our bearings.

“But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign LORD; in you I take refuge…” (Psalm 141:8a NIV)

“He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD.” (Psalm 112:7 KJV)

Polaris, the North Star
Photo by Giuseppe Donatiello, Public Domain on Wikimedia Commons

There’s something else we can learn from the North Star. Polaris holds a secret that was only discovered recently:

It isn’t actually one star, but three.

Polaris is a triple star system, consisting of the main star Polaris Aa, a supergiant, which is in orbit with companion stars Polaris Ab and Polaris B.

The North Star is actually a trinity! What a perfect metaphor for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

Fix your eyes on the eternal Trinity and chart your course by them. They will guide you over life’s oceans and see you to a safe harbour on the other side!

© 2020 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.

2 thoughts on “You Need a North Star

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