I confess that I love GPS and cannot imagine life without it now. I was never (and am not now) a very good map reader like my husband is. The newest GPS devices or apps appeal to my best learning style – auditory – and combine it with seeing the path I am to take.
Older ones we have used are already eclipsed by much better tools as technology grows. My car does not have the screen displays that will allow it to be projected for me, but my smartphone can certainly do that with ease. My favorite choice when I am heading to someplace new or going on a trip is to input the address in the Waze app.
I have other options that work, but I find this app suits me since it not only points to and tells me the way but also gives me additional information. It will let me know if there is an obstacle or pothole in the lane ahead as well as cars that may be stopped along the road or where the police are. It tells me when construction or an accident has brought traffic to a crawl or stop and if there is an alternative route to get me out of that mess. (That latter one has saved us a great deal of time when traveling on various interstates on trips.)
I know I should not hesitate to use a map, but it is hard to do while driving and doesn’t give me as much information as the latest devices or apps. I somehow feel that knowing all this additional information can not only help me get to my destination the easiest and best way, but also help me do it more safely.
One downside to my preference is how much I now depend on this new technology to make my travel easier.
Sometimes I think we would like to have a GPS like this to do life, something to let us know in advance what is ahead of us and how to avoid accidents, potholes and obstacles in the path. But that is not how the Lord designed us and I have no doubt He has excellent reasons.
You see the Lord has the advantage of knowing the beginning as well as the end of the journey we take and sees the long view instead of our more short-sided approach to much in our lives. He also knows where He plans to lead us and despite all that we may have planned or hoped, his design is the one that matters. His wisdom knows that the easy straight path will not develop maturity, trust, or strength of character for the end game.
Little by little from birth until we return home to the Lord, He designs the path for the task or goal. He may give us a glimpse of the path ahead, but not a clear view and not very far.
All along the way the Lord allows persons, places, and circumstances to intersect us in preparation for what lays ahead. We never see that when we are younger and sometimes not even in mid-life. As we age, we can better see how one thing built upon another to equip us for the next thing and to get us to our destination.
Corrie Ten Boom spoke to this in her well-known book, The Hiding Place, in the following quote:
“Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for a future only He can see.”
Unlike the GPS that is designed to get us to our destination the fastest and easiest way, the Lord knows that will not serve us for that “future only He can see.”
It is easy to think of people along my journey who have encouraged and affirmed me and give them due credit for that. But I am persuaded that when I think of those who have been most challenging or critical, most difficult or disappointing, I know they have been used by the Lord in powerful ways to prepare me for now and maybe beyond now.
A simple illustration to consider that is looking back at the teachers we had in our school life. Hopefully we have had many great ones and we recall them with fondness, but those we tend to recall the most are those who were the toughest and often demanded the most of us. They gave us no quarter with their expectations or grades and accepted no excuses for not doing what was required or asked of us.
We may not love this latter group of teachers, but they prepared us for college professors and bosses who thought they were working with adults who followed directions and understood the requirements. They recognized our weaknesses and cared enough to help strengthen them instead of being overly concerned about being liked by us.
Good parents, loving parents, understand that training and discipline of their cuddly adorable babies and toddlers are needed for them to succeed. And there is no greater nor loving parent than God, our Father. He has purposed to lead us back to Him and bring us home one day. He knows our favorite GPS will not get us there.
“ There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!”
Romans 5:3-5 (MSG)