During the last war a ship was torpedoed. The crew made its escape in rowboats. In one boat there were an officer and seven men, with a box of provisions, a machine gun, and a compass. They followed the direction of the compass until the night came. Then they were able to see by the stars that their compass was not working correctly.Does anyone know why the compass was not working rightly? They almost gave up hope then and there. Adrift in an open boat on the pathless sea, with a faulty compass! Just as they were about to abandon hope the officer said, "Men I have it! I know why the compass is wrong. The machine gun is throwing it out of line." A compass,perhaps you know, won't work correctly while there is metal too near it. The machine gun was acting like a magnet on the needle of the compass. The officer went on, "You must make your choice, men, either we drift aimlessly or the machine gun goes overboard. Which will it be?" To a man the crew replied, "Overboard with the gun!" Even though they hated to do it, overboard it went. They followed the compass and arrived home safely two days later.
Now see if you can make a sermon out of this story. Our soul is the compass pointing always toward God. Something turns us aside from God as the machine gun turned aside the compass. What is that? Sin. Yes. The third thing that will spoil our image of Christ is sin. If it comes to a choice between sin and God, what must you do? What did the crew do with the machine gun? Overboard with it. That is another way of saying what our Lord said in the Gospel, "No man can serve two masters."
The devil will tempt you. He will whisper, "You have to have a machine gun. You will be foolish to throw it away." Don't listen to him. The crew of the rowboat hated to throw out the machine gun, but they had to if they wanted to be saved. As long as sin is there the compass of your soul will not point true .
During this week you may be faced with a choice.... Machine gun or compass ... sin or God. Make up your minds this morning to remember this story and make the right choice when the time comes. If you had two souls you could take a chance. But you have but one. "The Lord thy God shalt thou adore and Him only shalt thou serve." "Thou hast made us for Thyself, 0 Lord, and our hearts are restless till they rest in Thee." * Amen.
This warning is carved in stone over the doorway of the Cathedral of Lubeck in Germany:
You call Me Master and obey Me not;
You call Me Light and see Me not;
You call Me Way and walk Me not;
You call Me wise and follow Me not;
You call Me rich and ask Me not;
You call Me eternal and seek Me not;
You call Me Master and serve Me not;
If I condemn you - blame Me not.
I St. Augustine, De Trinitate, xvi, ii.
- Heavenwords, Imprimatur 1941 -