Along life’s winding road, only Jesus has the directions that will bring us to our final destination.
Eric S. Hartzell
My friend called her “Samantha.” She was the “lady” who lived in his new GPS unit off to one side on the windshield of his car.
The GPS gives us directions
Samantha was incredible all afternoon. As we approached every intersection on our three-hour journey, she would say in her nonchalant voice, “In 150 yards you will be turning left onto Highway 71.” We both heard her. And it was so! You could even see on the screen the approaching intersection. Big roads, little roads. Right turns, left turns. It didn’t matter. Samantha knew the way! Samantha even knew the names of the roads and streets. And if we didn’t listen to her and missed a turn, Samantha planned immediately to get us back on the right road to our destination. Finally, three hours later when we arrived, she said in the same nonchalant voice, “You have now reached your destination.”
We were impressed. All afternoon—every second of it—Samantha knew where we were. She knew which road we were on. She knew which road was the right one for us and which one was wrong. She knew where our destination was. She knew everything about our travels. She even knew about our missed turns and set about immediately to fix them and get us back onto the right track. I suppose she did this so well because she understood where our final destination was. Even incredible cyber Samantha couldn’t help us if she didn’t know our destination.
There is a God in heaven who wants to be the GPS for our souls and our bodies as we travel our ways in this world. If a manmade GPS unit you can suction to your car’s windshield or an app you have on your phone can have such a wonderful grasp of where you are and where you are going, what must the almighty and all-knowing God be able to do? And if we trust in a GPS unit, why wouldn’t we trust in the Lord God, who is the creator and maintainer of all things?
He is the only true God. He wants to tell us where we are. He wants to tell us where he is. He wants to tell us where we will be if we follow his directions and if we believe him. He wants to tell us where he wants our destination to be. “Fixing our eyes on
Jesus,” he says (Hebrews 12:2). “My Father’s house has many rooms,” our Savior says (John 14:2). “Those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires” (Romans 8:5). Those who travel with a GPS must know what this Trinity—Jesus, Father, Spirit—means when they talk about our spiritual travel in these ways.
The GPS has to be right
If even once your GPS fails and takes you in the absolutely wrong direction and gets you lost, you would not be able to trust it again. This bit of knowledge doesn’t matter with our God. His ways are always right, and sometimes, as the prophet Isaiah says, they are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9). We might wonder about the road we’re on, but his ways are the right ways, and when we follow him we know we’re on the right track.
Some think life is all about the journey. It is not. Life is all about the destination and getting to where we are going. No matter the scenery. No matter the accommodations along the way or the comfort of the ride. No matter if the accommodations and means of travel are good. What matters is getting there. What matters is that we fight the fight and finish the race. What matters is hearing that voice say to us one day, “You have reached your destination.”
We did catch Samantha in some wrong directions on our afternoon of travel with her. She didn’t know the brand-new roads. When we got on a road she didn’t know, she got quiet. Her screen went blank. It was almost an embarrassed silence. There also were several times when we overruled her advice. We were actually smarter than she was on some shortcuts.
You won’t catch Jesus in this embarrassment. There won’t be any new roads he doesn’t already know. He wouldn’t be routing us that way anyway. It is the old road that he counsels us to travel. It isn’t under construction. It’s already finished. It’s maintained by God himself. The short ways may not be the best ways—often they are not. But God knows all this . . . if we just trust him and follow him.
Jesus is the way
Jesus not only knows the way for you and your life—he is that way. For people who consult all sorts of roadmaps through life and remain puzzled and uncertain about which to follow, we overhear the following conversation: “Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ ” Jesus answered,
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:5,6).
My friend and I never supposed that Samantha loved us. We didn’t even suppose that she liked us. She was just programmed to say what she said. She kept her distance. She stayed in her box. The One who counsels our spiritual travel does love us. He loves us so much he can’t stand the thought of our going anywhere without him. He can’t stand the thought of our getting lost or being lost. He said one time that he came for the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He as our good Shepherd even comes looking for his “other” sheep when they are lost. He doesn’t want us reaching out and turning him off. He doesn’t want us relying on our own wits and travel savvy. He doesn’t want us to be people who won’t ask his directions even when they know they are on the wrong road.
Jesus asks us to follow him
People with a GPS are people who implicitly follow directions. They do this even when it seems counterintuitive to do it. They trust the device. They hang on its every word.
Our final destination is heaven. The pathway to that destination sometimes take us through some dark forests and some difficult highways. Jesus promises to get us there. Trust his directions.
And when we get there, the angels will announce our arrival, finally and forever!
Eric Hartzell is pastor at Cross and Crown, Georgetown, Texas.
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Author: Eric S. Hartzell
Volume 103, Number 6
Issue: June 2016
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