A Compass in Heavy Fog

“A Compass in Heavy Fog,” Ensign, Sept. 2003, 67

A Compass in Heavy Fog

A few years ago I was drafted to serve in Taiwan’s naval forces. I served as a chief petty officer and squad leader on a harbor support craft, assisting all incoming and outgoing ships.

One morning in early spring my colleagues and I received the routine instruction to assist a ship approaching the harbor. Initially, the weather was clear. But after leaving the harbor, we ran into heavy fog. Visibility was less than three meters. Because we had never seen such a heavy spring fog, we were tense and disoriented. We were quickly lost. We did not know where we were or where we should go.

Because I was the most experienced hand on board and the most familiar with the area, the skipper ordered me to use the boat’s compass to find our bearing, lead everyone back to the mouth of the harbor, and suspend mission operations. Otherwise, we might at any moment enter an area of submerged reefs or sail too close to mainland China.

I had never experienced fog that required a compass, and I had neglected the work of periodic compass inspection, maintenance, and repair. So when we desperately needed the compass to find our direction, it did not work at all. With rebuke in his voice, the captain said, “You’ve put us in danger. We could run into a reef at any moment!”

I realized he was right. I sadly bowed my head and silently prayed, asking Heavenly Father to forgive my negligence and help me find a way to escape the fog and return to the pier. After my prayer, a sudden thought came into my mind. I recommended to the skipper that we turn in a certain direction, travel very slowly, and find the coast. He agreed, and not long after taking this action, we arrived at the granite cliffs south of the harbor mouth and slowly followed the cliff wall into the harbor. Soon we were safely home.

Because of this experience, I know that Heavenly Father listens to my prayers. I am grateful that in spite of my neglecting proper preventative measures, the compass of spiritual guidance started to work, and it led us home.

Now I often ask myself: Am I doing all I can to prepare for the fog? Have I inspected my spiritual compass lately? Am I in harmony with God? Am I loyal to my faith? Am I untarnished? These are items we should review. If we do not, when spiritual fog comes, we may fall into the reefs of sin and perhaps never find our way home.

I am thankful that Heavenly Father has installed within each of us a spiritual Liahona. If we are diligent and faithful, we can rely on the Holy Ghost; then we can sail on to the harbor of safety and return to our heavenly home.

Illustrations by Brian Call