Recalculating

I’ve had a Garmin GPS for the happier years of my driving life.  I remember when they were still vogue, but not inaccessibly expensive anymore, and for some reason my mother immediately bought me one.  It was almost as if she didn’t want to be called 150 times a day to give directions anymore.

One of the first things I learned about my Garmin was what happens when you make a mistake.  The Garmin would say something like, “In point two miles, turn left” . . . and I, having not a spectacularly acute sense of distance (although I pride myself in being able to measure with a ruler–inches or centimeters), would sometimes turn too soon or occasionally not soon enough.

There would be that pause from my Garmin machine and then,

“Recalculating . . Recalculating . . . . In point four miles turn left.”

I came to learn that recalculating meant I hadn’t followed the original plan, but the GPS was finding a new way for me.

There have been a few times when I have changed my mind about where I wanted to go, and so ignored my GPS, leaving it on.  The GPS will say over and over,

Recalculating.  Recalculating . . .

And keep finding new roads that lead back to the place I’d selected to go.

But, eventually, if I’d go too far in the opposite direction the GPS would say,

“When possible, make a U-turn.”

Over and over again, until I made the U-turn or turned the GPS off.

Then came the time when I bought a different brand of GPS.  I discovered that rather than saying Recalculating, it sat silently during wrong turns and then recalculated automatically.

In theory, this sounded less intrusive and more relaxing.  But what I found was that I didn’t always know when I had missed a turn, and because I didn’t, and the GPS would silently figure out another route around, I could easily go on without realizing I’d lengthened my route.

I couldn’t learn routes to places in this way and, more than this, I was left wondering, Did I make the right turn?  Or the wrong turn and not even know it?

And what if I just drove on and on making wrong turns?  At what point would the GPS intervene and tell me rather than silently figuring out how to get me to my destination . . . ?

I took that GPS back and got a Garmin again.  I realized I needed to hear,

Recalculating.

Only then would I learn efficient itinerary to the places I wanted to go.

_________________________________________________________________________

I have a confession to make.  Sometimes when I read the Bible, I don’t want to hear that I need to recalculate my life.  I want to just go on with the attitude, “What wrong turn?  Let’s pretend I didn’t make one.”

The problem is, if the Bible doesn’t teach me about the gravity of my sin, I would never know what’s at stake.  We’re not talking about going a few miles out of the way.  We’re talking about my eternal destination!  And if I’m a follower of Christ, I don’t want to waste my life doubling back from dead end alleys, serpentining through streets, heading off on highways to the middle of nowhere.  No!  There are too many drivers out there who need to know they can be rerouted to Heaven for me to be meandering about.

When I take a wrong turn, I need to know it immediately.  God’s Word, His Spirit, convicts me of my sins, so that I can turn away and get back on God’s path immediately.

God can and will recalculate my route when I confess my sin, directing me back to the right path, but it will never be the same as if I had gone on the right path in the first place.  This is why I must keep my listening ears on for God’s directions.  There is no time to waste in telling others about Jesus.  And I need to be on the right path as I tell others how about the perfect navigator, Jesus Christ.

He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. (Psalm 23:3, ESV)

_________________________________________________________________________

Photograph by Miguel B., profile on http://www.flickr.com/people/mig/

Photograph is under Creative Commons License.

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

Advertisements

Relativity

A GPS is my Going Places Solo machine.  Without my GPS, I Gotta Phone Somebody or Gotta Petition Strangers.  I need my navigator to direct me to where I want to be.

But if I believed in the relativity of truth I would be more hopelessly lost than ever!  Not only would I not know how to get where I was going, but I wouldn’t even know where I was going . . . or where I came from, either!  (I don’t think my GPS could handle that!)

On the other hand, if I step into the Christian worldview, the Bible instructs me in absolute Truth.  This worldview reveals to me the definition of right and wrong.  (A little like how my GPS tells me what street to turn on and when.)

As a relativists, I can’t get directions, because I have no absolutes . . . and with no absolutes, I can’t even be absolutely certain there are no absolutes!  (That reminds me of when my GPS says, “lost satellite reception”.  Without absolute coordinates, I might as well put a tent up in the middle of the street, because I’m never getting home!)

So many religions claim to have the absolute truth that I could see all these different claims as evidence that no religion can be right.  (But even if a million different GPS’s tell me a million different streets to take to arrive at my house, there is still only one street that connects to my driveway.  The fact that all but one of the GPS’s must be wrong doesn’t mean that the one telling me the correct street can’t take me to my house.)

And anyway, even a relativist has absolute truth . . . in a very different way.

If I’m sure there is no absolute truth, then I’m banking on the absolute truth that there is no absolute truth . . . which is absolutely uncertain . . . or not, because I can’t know that there is an absolute uncertainty about the absence of an absolute truth in a belief of no absolute truth!  (If I input that kind of data into my GPS, I think it would be so confused it’d just give up and start playing radio music.)

. . . . How could I even know I’m a relativist if I’m a relativist, if everything is relativist? (Now not only do I have no GPS, I have no car, either!)

Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32, NLT)

_________________________________________________________________________

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.

GPS

I bought a new GPS named Tom-Tom.

This was a very important purchase for me, because I have the directional sense of Big Bird.  (You know, “Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street”[1]?  I mean, he’s lived there his whole life and he still does not know.  I think he and I would be very good friends.)

My first big test was to an address I’d never been.  I checked online for a general route, not ready to totally trust Tom-Tom just yet.  When I got in my car, however, the very first turn Tom-Tom asked me to make, in its classically calm voice, was the opposite of the turn I thought I should be making.

I didn’t have time to go Tom-Tom’s route and then turn back around if it was wrong.  And I didn’t have time go to my own way and then listen to Tom-Tom if I was wrong.  I had to make a decision about what I trusted more: my historically poor navigational skills or the promised skill of Tom-Tom.

I decided to go with Tom-Tom.  Not long after I had made that first unknown turn, I was faced with the next impending turn, driving me into a neighborhood I had never visited.  I decided to trust Tom-Tom.  This began a series of turns in and out of neighborhoods I didn’t know.  My directional sense became so confused that I wondered if Tom-Tom had eaten too many maps for breakfast.  But at this point, I had nothing else I could trust.  I was confused and I didn’t even know if I could describe these neighborhoods to call someone and get advice.  I was either going the right way or I wasn’t.  It was that simple.

And then, in about 15 minutes from my departure time, Tom-Tom announced we had arrived.

That was when Tom-Tom and I became friends.

Tom-Tom had gotten me to the address without going through traffic lights, crowded streets, or dangerous highways.  Tom-Tom had known best all along.

Just as I had to trust Tom-Tom to navigate me to an earthly destination, I have to trust God to navigate me to a Heavenly destination!  And I’ve discovered something: the more clueless I realize I am, the more willing I am to trust!  Just as I would be imprisoned in my house or lost on the streets without my GPS, I would be imprisoned in my sin and lost in life without God!

God promises us He will always take us the right way to the right destination.  The question isn’t about His navigational skills but about our willingness to listen to His voice . . . even when we think we know better than Him.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10, ESV)

See Copyright Page for Bible translation information.