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“After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.” (Mark 1:14)

If my relative had been imprisoned, I don’t think I would have been very happy about it and it’s likely I would have found it difficult to focus on things. Yet in this verse we are told that Jesus went into Galilee and began to proclaim the good news of God after John was put in prison. I don’t think Jesus was heartless or disregarding of John. We know from other places in Scripture that he had a high regard for him. Yet He was not deflected or distracted by this apparent setback. He was not daunted by bad news in the way that we so often are.

Rend Collective’s song ‘True North’ says, ‘I will not let the darkness steal the joy within my soul; I will not let my circumstance become my compass, no.’ We so easily let darkness steal our joy; we so easily let circumstances dictate our actions and paths. But Jesus did not do that. Instead, He went into Galilee and proclaimed the good news of God. He followed His calling, not HIs feelings. He didn’t allow the ‘bad news’ of John’s imprisonmnet to overshadow the good news of the kingdom of God.

‘True North’ goes on to say, ‘I will not let the fears of life and sorrows of this world dictate to me how I should feel, for You are my true north.‘ God is the anchor of our life. He provides the stability and direction we need and therefore circumstances, fears, sorrows and failures do not have to define us. God is our identity.

Later, when Jesus heard of John’s execution, we see Him withdrawing privately to a solitary place. (Matt 14:13) I imagine He wanted to be alone in His grief. Yet when He landed on the other shore and saw the crowd waiting for Him, He had compassion on them and healed their sick (Matt 14:14), going on to feed them (Matt 14:15-21). Once again, He kept the bigger picture in view and did not allow Himself to be deflected from serving God.

To serve God in this single-minded fashion requires devotion and an ongoing practice of establishing spiritual priorities. It’s much easier to panic, sulk, doubt or retreat when life does not turn out the way we expected it to. If God is our ‘true north’, however, then we can stay on course, even if life appears to be throwing us off course!