I’ve read 2 interesting posts about the GPS lately. The first was here at Stuff Christians Like, and the second was here, on my friend Katherine’s blog.
Interesting, I think, because both posts refer to sermon illustrations that take a completely opposite stance on the GPS than I do.
Essentially they liken the GPS to God’s path and how we might veer off it if we don’t listen to the “voice.” (Sounds to me like these sermons breed a culture of fear).
As for me, I have a strong dislike for the GPS. And every time I use it, I tell myself that I’ll never use it again.
This could be because I have a negative association with the GPS. My first memory of it dates back to 2004 on the day before New Years Eve, when my mom, dad, and I were trying to make it back up a mountain to my aunt and uncle’s chalet in Switzerland after dropping my brother and his girlfriend (now wife) off at the train station.
The GPS was having major “recalculating” issues, taking us here and there and everywhere, so of course my dad chose not to listen to the annoying voice in the box and create his own route. Needless to say we became quite lost. So my mom took it upon herself to dangle that precious GPS (belonging to the car rental company) outside the window, threatening to chuck it unless my dad pulled over and asked for directions.
Eventually we made it up the mountain, but it wasn’t without me wishing I could chuck myself out the window that day.
Since then I’ve lacked trust in the GPS (and please don’t use this as an analogy for me lacking trust in God – it’s an electronic box!) I can’t even count the amount of times the GPS has taken me along the wrong road, a gravel road, an unnamed road (through the wilderness), the complete opposite direction of my destination, or added an unnecessary 2 hours to the route.
So without further ado, here is my GPS sermon.
Buy a Roadmap
Think of the map of a road as the map of your life. With it you can see where you’ve been, where you are, and where you want to end up. You can also choose how you want to get there, and where you might want to stop along the way. You can be strategic. That’s called wisdom.
And of course there will be times when your mapped out journey will fall through. You might encounter some construction that you didn’t expect. Whatever the detour is, it’s all a part of the adventure which will inevitably build your character along the route to the final destination (which could very well change amidst the journey).
But then there are some people who will punch their destination into an unreliable GPS without even bringing along a roadmap and set out on an “adventure”. I’ve been that person way too many times.
Are you seeing the stupidity in this?
Why would you listen to the voices in a box – voices that might lead you astray – when you have been given an indispensible tool, a road map? (i.e. – a brain).
I’m not saying that the GPS can never help you. But I think it serves merely as an aid, after you’ve studied the map and have a clear idea of where you’re trying to go.
But what if you don’t?
Then I think the voices of the GPS are a lot like the voices of the world.
“Go here, go there! Like this, buy that! Money, success, fame, glory! That’s what’s important!”
And so you start following those voices, even though you might not even want those things, because that’s what those voices are telling you, and since you don’t have you’re own map to consult, you’re not even really sure where you want to go, what you want to do – what you want in life.
I might be young (by some standards) but I’ve lived long enough to know that even with a roadmap life is not necessarily going to take the route that you want it to. In fact, it probably won’t. But isn’t it better to actually know where you want to go, so that when you come up against those potholes, construction zones, and road closures you actually have the wisdom to determine what to do next?
I think that’s a lot better than a GPS that can take you to a place you never wanted to go without even realizing it.
The thing is, I don’t think God is like a GPS. God is not a voice in a box that tells us where to go (often calling out the wrong directions). God is a lot smarter than a GPS. A lot more gracious (He doesn’t whine Recalculating!), and He’s not fearful when we get lost. He’s in total control.
God won’t set us up for the wrong path. He’s promised to guide us and counsel us, and He even gives us tools (like a brain, gifts, skills, passions, desires, and wisdom) so that instead of being a mindless robot we are a person of character who doesn’t just “go with the flow” but uses those tools efficiently.
And I honestly believe that as long as we’re using those tools with God as our ultimate goal, we can’t really go wrong.
Goodbye Vague Ambition
Perhaps my GPS Sermon Illustration is nothing new to you, and you’ve heard it all before. Or maybe you completely disagree with me because you’re experience with the GPS has been positive.
But hopefully this post will make you think a little bit more about what you want in life, give you the courage to chuck your vague ambition out the window, and as my favourite man (after Jesus and my future husband…and my dad and my brother) Don Miller says,
“…to stand up and point toward a horizon.”