GPS

As I prepare for the four trips I have scheduled this month, I am reminded of an adventure I had with my good friend Tim Weidlich a few months ago.  We were in Chicago attending meetings at Willow Creek Community Church in preparation for the Global Leadership Summit.  Since Harvest Church was a host site for the Summit, we transacted a flight plan that conveniently brought us within 20 miles of South Barrington where Willow’s main campus is located.  Being a seasoned road warrior, Tim brought and installed his GPS on the windshield of our rented Ford Focus.  We made haste out of the parking lot armed with verbal directions to the Interstate given by the gate attendant employed by Thrifty.  En route, I attempted to program the GPS with the address to our hotel.  Having never programed a GPS before, I struggled.  Tim finally took over and had it programed in short order while we drove to South Barrington.  After the 20 minute drive and with the Hilton Garden Inn in clear sight from the Interstate, I laughed.  Actually, we didn’t need the GPS after all.

Later that evening we left the hotel to attend a meeting at Willow.  Leaving the parking lot, Tim programmed the GPS with Willow as our destination.  Both of us, having been to Willow before, we knew that getting there started with a right turn out of the parking lot.  Two minutes later, we approached the sign and subsequent road into the church parking lot. Again, we didn’t really need the GPS.

After the meeting, I needed to go to the store to get a few items that I neglected to bring on the trip.  Within a few minutes we had the GPS programmed to find the nearest grocery store.  Actually, the GPS worked perfectly and led us right to Jewel-Osco.  I easily found what I needed, paid the clerk and left the store.  Sitting in the vehicle again, Tim programmed the GPS with the hotel information.  The gentle, soothing voice told us to take a right out of the parking lot and another right on the road immediately beyond the store property.  We obediently followed the voice commands and were led through one residential neighborhood after another.  Driving a little father took us past a dimly lit park and by some really great homes.  A few blocks later we were instructed to take another right.  Amongst the conversation, the low light and a couple hard swigs from our recently purchased bottles of water, we noticed the Jewel-Osco on our right – again.  The Garmin had led us around the block and a subsequent left turn on the road the led us to the store from the hotel.  I was puzzled, we should have just gone left in the first place out of the parking lot.  I flippantly yelled, “God’s my GPS”.  We laughed but those words had some pretty serious undertones.

Real time question: What or who guides your life?  What impulse or piquing inspires you?  If you’re truly a Christ-follower, the answer to those questions become obvious.  Our allowance of or submission to Christ’s guidance is what sets those following Christ apart from those who aren’t.  Another question:  How does God guide us or become our GPS?  I think there is much interest in this subject among evangelical Christians.  However, the surprising thing is that the Bible says very little about how God guides his people.  In fact, God does not promise to use any other means to guide us other than His Spirit and His word, the Bible.

The world inhabitants in the Old Testament looked forward to a time when God would send His Spirit on all his people.  It says in Ezekiel 36, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (Ezek 36:26-27)  In the New Testament, this hope is fulfilled.  Jesus, the risen Christ, pours out the Spirit on his people (Acts 2:33).  The New Testament tells us that all Christians receive God’s Spirit as a guarantee of their relationship with God (Rom 8:5-7Gal 4:6Eph 2:18).

How then, does God, the Spirit, promise to guide us?  The answer is simple: by the sword of the Spirit, the Bible (Eph 6:17).  God speaks to us by His word.  He tells, directs, encourages, advises, commands, informs, reveals and exhorts us to live His way.  The Spirit takes this word and applies it to our hearts.  He awakens a response in us and leads us to put it into practice.  This may sound very dull and pedestrian, but God speaks to us in words, and these words have been written down.  This is not very mystical or magical or spectacular, so it lacks some fascination for unspiritual minds.  When we look at what the Bible says about itself, we find a consistent pattern of promises that God will continue to guide his people by His word.  You could actually say that God’s word is a GPS guiding us in this life.  I hope you’re letting God guide you…

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