My husband (of twenty-five years this Sunday) teasingly calls me “geographically dyslexic” based on my ability to, when given a choice, always take a wrong turn. I can read a map, but trying to use it or following directions while driving? Hopeless case.
But with the GPS, I can drive along, allowing the device to co-pilot me. I turn when it tells me to turn. Go straight when it tells me to. Step-by-step, I follow, and I can get anywhere. Almost.
One day I was driving in Pennsylvania—visiting a church I used to be a member of on the way home from a writers conference. I Googled a map, but the GPS took me a different, presumably shorter, way. So I happily followed the GPS, which directed me off the toll roads and through picturesque countryside. It was lovely. Until I got to the bridge. Which was closed.
I circled back to the last intersection, and detoured around. I figured the device would recalculate. But since apparently there were not many crossings of whatever body of water I was trying to cross (by this point, I was really lost), it kept insisting I make a u-turn. So I drove farther away, hoping it would recalculate another path. Finally, instead of telling me to take a u-turn, it gave me new directions. I travelled down one lane roads, some paved, stopping at one point to allow turkeys to cross. Eventually the roads got bigger and I found myself…right in front of that same stupid closed bridge. Don’t ask me how, but I did eventually make it there—and in time for church.
Another time, I drove 90 minutes to a workshop in Rochester. I got there just fine, thanks to my GPS. I enjoyed the workshop. When it was over, I hopped into the car, plugged in the GPS, and … . Nothing. Since I had no idea where I was, at least in comparison to where I needed to go, this was a problem.
I could share more of my driving escapades, but since this is a post on faith, I’d best hurry and make an application. Working with young people, one frequent question heard is, “How can I know God’s will?” Teens often want to know what vocation they should follow or who they should marry. Even some of us not-so-young people often struggle with making right decisions. In short, we want direction.
Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) there is no Google map to give us directions from the cradle to the grave. God doesn’t overwhelm us with all the twists and turns in our life journeys, but He does promise, like my GPS, to guide our next step.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105
Like a flashlight which only shines upon the area right in front of our feet, God’s Word illuminates only what we need to know to take the next step. Still, I often hear people talk as if God’s will is elusive and undecipherable. Hey, any parent knows that when you want your child to do something—stay out of the street, clean his room, or take out the garbage—you tell him directly, and sometimes repeatedly. God is a great communicator. If He wants us to go one way, and we are listening, willing and obedient, He will make that way plain.
God often required His people to literally follow a step at a time. Abraham was called to leave his home and go to a new promised land—without knowing where he was going. The children of Israel followed a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night as they circumnavigated the desert on their way to their inheritance.
Ye shall observe to do therefore as the LORD your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. Deut 5:32
Sometimes the way is pleasant, and we walk in the sunshine and thank God for his clear direction. Sometimes the way is hard and rocky, twisting in a direction where we don't want to go. And we say, “Are you sure, Lord?” But in faith we believe God knows what He is doing.
Problems arise when we neglect His guidance. Like a GPS we never turn on, God cannot guide us when we are not regularly spending time in his Word. And if we argue and follow our own plans instead, (which, oddly enough, is how my husband uses a GPS) eventually we become attuned only to our own way and not to His.
(For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 2 Cor 5:7
Question: Has God ever made His will known in a surprising way? Or led you in a surprising direction?
Fun Question: Have you ever gotten lost? Any interesting stories to share?
Barbara Early grew up buried in the snowy suburbs of Buffalo, NY, where she developed a love for all things sedentary: reading, writing, classic movies, and facebook scrabble. She holds a degree in Electrical Engineering, but her penchant for the creative caused her to run away screaming from the pocket-protector set. She taught secondary English and science for several years in a Christian school before home schooling her daughter successfully through high school. Barbara cooks up cozy mysteries with a healthy dose of comedy, and was a double finalist in the 2010 ACFW Genesis competition. When not reading or writing, she enjoys cooking, crafts, home-improvement projects, and spending time with her husband and daughter.