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I’m not sure why or where it comes from, but I like driving. That’s not common or even an easy thing to say when you live in California. Driving for us is often different than for most throughout the US. On the one hand, because of the lack of transportation infrastructure here, we basically almost have to drive everywhere. As a result, there are tons and tons of cars here, and our famous traffic is famous for a reason. And yet, everyone drives fast here. Like Mario Andretti fast.
So with all that, plus the fact that I commute to work 60 miles each way each day, you would think driving is the last thing I’d want to do. However … when it came time to move our oldest child into college last week, I was unmovable in my insistence to Helen that we had to road trip our son to college. After all, I reasoned, it’s tradition. You road trip your kid to college. It’s just how it’s done.
In the old days, when you’re heading on a 1,500-mile drive to Texas, you’d break out your multifold map and try to conjure up a route that makes sense. Fortunately, over the past 20 years or so, the prolific availability of satellite technology has allowed us to shed our maps and Thomas Bros. map books (other than for the various and sundry die-hards … we just got rid of Helen’s Thomas Bros. map book a couple years ago – it was dated around the mid-1990s haha). The navigation capabilities we have today though, by tapping into the GPS or Global Positioning System, have saved many of us from getting lost, and have helped us to find a real-time route efficiently traversing away from traffic snags. GPS can accomplish this because 1) it sits with a viewpoint above our view point, 2) it sees what we can’t see, such as hazards and incidents that can slow us down or harm us and that we should avoid, 3) it knows our destination, and 4) it can discern the best way to get us where we are supposed to go.
Through my recent reading, this theme came into mind and was a bit unshakeable. Through Isaiah 59 – 66, 2 Kings 20 – 25, 2 Chronicles 32 – 36, Nahum 1 – 3, Zephaniah 1 – 3, Jeremiah 1 – 40, Habakkuk 1 – 3, and Psalms 74, 79, it seems to me that the Israelites were suffering from GPS-related issues. By way of Habakkuk 2:18 – 20, I’ll explain.
“What good is an idol carved by man, or a cast image that deceives you? How foolish to trust in your own creation—a god that can’t even talk! What sorrow awaits you who say to wooden idols, ‘Wake up and save us!’ To speechless stone images you say, ‘Rise up and teach us!’ Can an idol tell you what to do? They may be overlaid with gold and silver, but they are lifeless inside. But the Lord is in his holy Temple. Let all the earth be silent before him.”
The prophet Habakkuk is conveying a message from God that God spoke through a number of His messengers at this time. You see, the Israelites, the very people who were direct recipients of God’s directions, had deviated not just once, but time and time and time again. That is, they had a GPS – a God Positioning System – that laid out quite specifically the route they should take as a people. Just like our modern day Global Positioning System for the purpose of navigating us on a travel journey, the Israelites had … and we today have … a God Positioning System to navigate us on the journey of life.
And in a similar way, our GPS … God Positioning System … can save us from getting lost, and help us to find a real-time route efficiently traversing away from snags. Why? Well because our God Positioning System 1) sits with a viewpoint above our view point, 2) it sees what we can’t see, such as hazards and incidents that can slow us down or harm us and that we should avoid, 3) it knows our destination, and 4) it can discern the best way to get us where we are supposed to go.
Now be that as it may, but just like our navigation systems today, they’re only as good as the degree to which we place our trust in them and abide by their directions. I mean, they don’t force us to follow their directions. We can choose to listen or we can choose to ignore them. And if we ignore them they’ll switch to “calculating route.” But in the meantime, we are subject to the consequences. We might get lost, might find ourselves in dangerous neighborhoods, might extend the time to our destination, we’ll get frustrated and maybe even be afraid. All because we chose not to rely on the GPS.
The Israelites were suffering this fate at the time of Habakkuk. They had the direct commandments and loving involvement of their GPS … their God Positioning System. Not only did they not adhere to the GPS, not only did they choose instead a stagnant paper map, but they actually decided they would just write their own map. Imagine if you or I decided to go on a long journey across the US and instead of relying on our GPS we chose instead to just create our own map. Look, no one in their right mind would do that for a road trip … yet the Israelites decided and – let’s face it, you and I routinely decide today – to do the precise life equivalent of that. We try to write our own maps. The Israelites, well they suffered incalculable consequences from the instruments of God through the Babylonians and the Assyrians and myriad others. We place ourselves in no less perilous situations when we ignore our GPS as well.
It’s not surprise that life is often metaphorically compared to a journey. A road trip, if you will. Available to you and me is the ultimate GPS – the God Positioning System – to help ensure that our route is optimal. But just like we have to choose to pay attention to, receive, and adhere to the directions of our navigational GPS, if we want to have the most efficient, safe, fruitful, productive, and enjoyable life journey, we need to pay attention to, receive, and adhere to the directions of our life’s GPS … our God Positioning System. Because, as the Creator of the universe and everything in it, He alone 1) sits with a viewpoint above our view point, 2) it sees what we can’t see, such as hazards and incidents that can slow us down or harm us and that we should avoid, 3) it knows our destination, and 4) it can discern the best way to get us where we are supposed to go. All we have to do is follow the directions, by His Word, by His Spirit, and often, through His people.
Soli Deo gloria!