GPS Spirituality

A few years ago my wife got a GPS (Global Positioning System) as a Christmas gift. As you know, a GPS is a directional guidance device in which you program your starting point and your destination and the GPS plots a course of travel for you. It is like an upgraded, digital, audio/visual mapquest. We used this for quite a while, in the British accent mode, but then it disappeared.  My take? It programmed itself and is now relaxing on a beach in Mexico sipping margueritas. But I digress.

My son never liked the GPS, especially when we were driving and my wife and I were arguing over whether or not the directions on the GPS were the best way to go. He stepped in a few times to temper these discussions. In fact, now that I think about it, he may have bankrolled the GPS so it could make its Mexican excursion. But again I digress.

If you have used a GPS you know that even with a voice telling you when to turn and a multicolored map to guide you, you can still make a wrong turn and wind up going the wrong way. It is possible that you programmed the starting place or destination incorrectly or maybe you were just confused about what the GPS was telling you to do. When you make a wrong turn, the device emits the dreaded word of GPS users: recalculating. It is both a mild reprimand for doing the wrong thing and a correction to get you back on the right track to your destination. It is irritating but it helps you to get where you are trying to go.

I believe that the Christian life could sometimes be described as GPS spirituality. When God, by His grace in Christ, calls us to himself we are at the starting point of our journey. He has also set for us what the destination will be – everlasting life in the light of His presence. Along the way He has provided both a voice (the internal work of the Holy Spirit, not necessarily with a British accent) and a map (the Bible). However, as when you use your GPS, it is still possible to make wrong turns on your journey to eternal life. This wrong turn might be the result of a misunderstanding of your starting place or destination but I believe for most of us it is a willful desire and decision to go our own way rather than following the directions and utilizing the resources that the Lord has made available to us. We sin for only one reason – we don’t believe God when He promises that His way is best.

If I were an open theist, I could even compare God to the GPS. As the GPS recalculates in light of changing situations, God recalculates His actions in light of changing situations. He waits to see what people will do (since He does not know) and then reacts in much the same way as the GPS.

However, I am not an open theist but a strong believer in the sovereignty and providence of God.  Since I believe the Bible teaches that God is omniscient (knows all things that have been, are, will be, and even what could be), He never has to “recalculate.” He prefers the word “repentance” as what will get us back on the right track as we humble ourselves before Him and begin again to head toward our destination.

God is also unlike the GPS in other ways. The GPS is a device which is under our control and that we use for ourselves. Though at times we try to treat God in this way, He does not allow that to go on for very long.

Also, the GPS is a thing while God is a person. That means while you can’t have a relationship with your GPS, you can have a relationship with God. It is that relationship which makes all the difference and provides us the perspective of seeing the glory of the grind.

Do you need to repent and humble yourself before God in order to enjoy the glory that your relationship with Him brings? Don’t wait. Get back on the right track toward your destination.

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About Dr. John H. Harbison

Son of God, Husband, Father, Author of "Keeping Christ in Ministry,"Vice-President for Academic Affairs, College Pastor, Runner, Writer
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