My great uncle several times removed was Daniel Boone the American frontiersman. As the Applegate Wagon Train moved through western Oregon in the winter of 1846 one of the wagons was occupied by his grandson, Alphonso Boone. In the same winter snowstorm that trapped the Donner Party producing a horrible outcome, the Applegate Wagon Train was also hit, but with immense amounts of rain and sleet just south of present-day Roseburg, Oregon.
As they entered a narrow canyon south of Canyonville, the fatigued oxen could no longer pull the fully loaded wagons so the pioneers off-loaded much of their precious cargo. In a cache, Alphonso hid Daniel Boone’s compass and survey equipment hoping to return the next year and retrieve those articles. Sometime during the following year, the cache had been discovered and the compass and survey equipment was stolen.
Boone was given the compass as a gift by notables in Europe. He never used a compass. He traveled like native people knowing the land, its rivers, and the contour of the mountains.
Yesterday, on a hike in the mountains above our home not far from the original track of the Applegate Wagon Train, I was thinking of how Boone traveled overland. While he knew the basic compass headings from his exploring instinct, he followed the natural contours of a wilderness that allowed him to explore regions of America yet to be discovered. While the straight line of a compass could be valuable, it did not always provide a way around natural obstacles he would encounter.
Our faith has certain straight-line compass headings when it comes to God, the way of salvation, and the truth about how we should live this life. The rest of the journey is navigated by dealing with the detours of the unexpected contours of life, and the ups and downs of the unexpected, all while keeping the true north of truth in mind.
Yesterday on my hike, I met a couple dressed in the latest hiking attire. They wore matching hats, workout pants, tee shirts, fanny packs, and hiking shoes. The man seemed a bit impatient at my greeting as they continued to hike past me. I noticed the man was holding a smartphone a few inches in front of his face. They stopped and stood just beyond me at the juncture of two trails. They looked a bit confused. I asked if I could help. In a dismissive tone, the man raised his phone and said, “No thanks, I have a trail app!” His wife in tow, they moved a few feet away from me still referencing his phone.
As they disappeared down one of the trails, I didn’t want to tell him that relying on electronic maps does not always work in this area, especially if you get to the bottom of a deep canyon where there’s no cell service. I prayed for them as they vanished into the forest. I prayed especially for the wife who had that look on her face that gave me the impression she had been on these hikes before but simply went along with her husband’s over-confident and demanding demeanor.
After years of following the Lord, hopefully, all of us will have developed a sense of spiritual north as revealed in Scripture. We will need that direction when we find ourselves in an unfamiliar canyon of concern. In those instances, the Spirit will be able to lead us home when the gadgets of a misdirected faith fail.
My parting comment was made out of earshot of the couple as they hurried along the trail with their smartphone leading the way, “If you get lost just head downhill.”
You have such great analogies! This one made so much sense to me (not to mention I loved the Daniel Boone TV shows as a child)! If we keep ‘True North’ always in our mind and heart, the unexpected detours will not be a source of fear! Thank you!
Good morning Garris Elkins…,
I really love your article. it was well written and thought provoking. I especially liked the historical information about your ancestors and their experience being one that we can understand and give reverence to as well as find ourselves in it. A spiritual connection is so rewarding through these great moments in our past that we can use in our lives today. Thank you sir and keep the great stories coming!
Loved this Garris! Thank you.
“The gadgets of misdirected faith.” I’ve tried my share of those! Great words, Garris. If you get lost, head for the cross.