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3 June 2022
Figuring out how to get where we want to go
Words Phil Inglis
Since moving to a new city at the beginning of this year, I have used my GPS a lot!
The other night, I was going to meet friends for dinner at their house, and since I had never been there before, I punched the address into my phone’s GPS and followed its guidance until I arrived at my destination.
I have used my GPS to get to cafes, conferences and concerts. I have relied on it to get me to shops, work and the airport. I am truly grateful for this technology, and I am sure I am not the only one. Using the GPS has become common practice for many people as they drive, walk, run, cycle and catch public transport.
The other day I was having coffee with someone, and they asked me if I had a street directory. Do you remember those? I was reminded that the fundamental advantage of a GPS over a street directory is that it tells you where you are. It is a Global Positioning System. The same maps exist in the GPS as exist on paper in a street directory, but the GPS adds a digital ‘YOU ARE HERE’ marker. This is helpful in a new city because it’s so easy to get lost. If we have no ‘YOU ARE HERE’ marker, our maps are useless, and our destination will be beyond our reach.
When I was growing up, the Bible was described to me as a manual or a roadmap for life. This is certainly true. The Kingdom of God is described as the coming reality in which injustice, imprisonment, separation, conflict, doubt and death are all eliminated, and instead, we live in wisdom, justice, peace, freedom and love. This is the destination, and the Scriptures are the map.
The problem is that maps and destinations are not enough. We need to know where we are in relation to that destination. We need to know if we are near or far. We need to know whether to travel north, south, east, west or any other direction. To complicate things even more, life has ups, downs, shifts and slips. There are sharp turns and U-turns, and there are many times we are just not sure where we are anymore. Not to mention our human tendency to disregard, ignore or miss directions.
We need a system to help us figure out those times so that we can re-route and get back on track, even if it means that sometimes we have to “perform a U-turn when safe to do so”.
Scriptures by themselves are not enough – we need God. We need divine help in finding ourselves. One man who knew the power of this kind of positional information was King David, who prayed:
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” Psalm 139, verses 23-24.
If you feel a bit lost in life, if you have great goals and dreams but never seem to reach them, if you have a significant calling but never seem to see it fulfilled, then perhaps it might help to spend some time in prayer.
Ask God to investigate your life, to give you a clear picture of where you are and then ask God to re-route and give you updated guidance.
Major Phil Inglis is a Salvation Army officer (pastor) in Victoria.