With Summer officially here, many of us may be hitting the road to enjoy a much needed trip or vacation. Most of us will rely on an app or some form of GPS to get us to our destination. That got me thinking.
How reliable is your GPS?
I am the first to admit that I have a terrible sense of direction. My father, Mr. Geography Incarnate, couldn’t understand how I never mastered North, South, East, or West. I simply worked with left, right, up or down. Not his proudest moment, I’m sure. To his credit, he did teach me how to read maps and write down directions. Of course, my directions always included a million landmarks to help give me confidence that I was going the right way. This system usually worked out all right until I was detoured. I only had directions for this specific way, and now I’m being taken somewhere else! Panic inevitably ensued.
With advancements in technology, we really don’t have to think too much about how to get anywhere. We simply type in the address and our app displays the best route. It lets us know what’s up ahead, if there are any delays, and suggests alternates to shorten our travel time. It’s very convenient, until it stops working. I recently had a couple of experiences where my app took me to the wrong place. I had typed in the correct address, but for whatever reason, it took me somewhere else. I’ve also had situations where I’ve hit a dead spot and my navigation either stalled or disconnected completely. That’s a little frightening, isn’t it? You think all is well and then you hear, “You’re back online”. I’m back online? When was I offline?! “Rerouting.” Rerouting?! I’m a half-mile from a bridge with no off-ramp. Where am I going?!!
Let’s say that your navigation is behaving and you’re cruising along the highway. Life is good. Suddenly you see a dreaded sign letting you know that in one mile your beautiful three-lane road will be squeezing into a single lane of chaos due to road work. Do you merge now or stay in your lane until the last possible moment?
I usually merge once I see the first sign or shortly thereafter. But I am always fascinated by my fellow travelers who see the same sign I did, but absolutely refuse to acknowledge and adjust. In fact, some of these folks will even go so far as to wait until there is literally nowhere for them to go. Their lane is coned off or blocked, and they’re still in it! I don’t get it.
When I’m in the lane that is being merged into and I see that horrific line of vehicles clogging up to my right, I usually leave some room for one car to enter. It seems like the right thing to do. But I am always surprised at how many drivers won’t accept my invitation. They’d rather stay in the soon-to-be-non-lane because they might get a few car lengths ahead of me. Eventually, I encounter these same individuals again. Now they’ve come to the end of their road and they’re forced to sheepishly signal and meekly merge. Perhaps they’ve learned their lesson, but probably not. Of course, following quickly on their heels is some fool who believes that my gracious invitation is for them too. It is not. You can get behind me and rethink your life choices.
Do you switch or stay in your lane?
If I’m driving any distance on a three-lane highway, I tend to merge into the middle lane. I’m not entirely sure why I do it. I guess it’s because the right lane is constantly going through stop-and-start cycles from on- and off-ramps, and the left lane is for those who are secretly living out their dream of driving on the Autobahn or competing in Nascar™. I will change lanes if someone is driving particularly slow or has decided that there’s room in my trunk for their vehicle too. But, I can’t wait to get back to my middle lane. It’s not that I feel especially safe there. After all, I’m surrounded by other vehicles on all sides. I don’t really have a great escape plan if things break bad, but yet it’s where I tend to land. I stay in my lane.
How good are you at reading and interpreting signs?
As I mentioned earlier, my Pops taught me to read maps and write directions. He also taught me to be aware of all the road signs. This can be a bit overwhelming when you’re on a busy highway with left- and right-side exits and entrances, or where a main road splits into two or more. Have you ever ridden down a stretch of highway where there seems to be more signs than actual road? Even Pops found himself challenged on our vacations to California when confronted by their freeways. He’d proudly merge with a smile and announce, “I’m back.” This was his Mount Everest, and he was going to conquer it. He left his mark, if only in our collective memories.
Does having a good GPS, staying in your lane, or reading and interpreting signs apply anywhere else besides driving?
If you’ve read any of my work, you know that I often tie human experiences to spiritual concepts and ideas. As I was preparing this piece, I couldn’t help but think of the subject matter’s impact beyond its obvious realm: driving. Think about it. How often have we heard the expression, “Stay in your lane”? It’s often used to encourage someone to stick with what they know or do what they know how to do. It can also be used to politely tell someone to mind their business. Stay over there.
I’m sure you’ve heard or even said at one time or another, “It’s a sign” when something supported a belief. I recently had such an experience when I had been telling my niece that we need to get back to Hawaii and then found myself stopped at a light behind a car with the label “Kona”. To me that was a sign that we will get back to Kona. Someone else may not see it as a sign; they may see it as just another car in front of me at a light. It all depends on your interpretation. I’m sure that same car stopped at many more lights and no one took any notice of it. Same sign, different interpretations.
And what about your GPS? In Christian circles we sometimes use the term your “knower”. It can often be confused with your gut reaction to something or someone, but it is deeper than a visceral response. We believe that the Holy Spirit was given to us to help guide us through life. He will often set off an internal alarm when we’re headed in the wrong direction. We can choose to listen to or ignore it. Whenever I’ve chosen to dismiss it, I’ve usually ended up in a dead-end situation. I’m now the car that ran out of road and is sheepishly, meekly signaling and hoping to merge. Have I learned my lesson? Time will tell.
I never expect you to take my word alone as truth or facts. That’s why I always bring receipts.
All verses are from the NIV version on biblegateway.com, emphasis added.
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. (Psalm 119:105)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; (Psalm 37:23)
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
When you’re feeling unsure of where to go and what to do in your life, please know that there is One way that guarantees a healthy outcome:
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)
The Lord gave us His Holy Spirit as the perfect navigation tool for life. He never quits or drops out. You may get rerouted, but you will always get to your destination. Stay in your lane and keep reading and interpreting His signs. You’ll leave your mark.
Until next time: stay happy, stay healthy, stay in the know.
Look forward to hearing from you,