God-Maps and Google-Maps

Road up a hill from unsplashMost of us embark on a journey with a clear destination in mind.

My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed taking our three children on family vacations.  With few exceptions, summer featured a trip to the beach and/or a visit to a family member and/or an adventure in the mountains.  We were all very excited to load up our trusty mini-van and hit the road.  The repeated refrain from the back seat, of course, was “Are we there yet?” 

Back in the days before GPS systems or Google maps, Dan had to depend on me and a folded up map to get where we wanted to go.  It was always a little dicey.  At least once on each trip there was tension surrounding the navigating.  I have inherited the well distributed and much laughed about “wrong way gene” in my family.

Now, it’s so much easier.  I can just whip out my phone, enter our destination, and driving directions are given in such detail that I know exactly how many feet it will be until the next turn.  All that’s left to do is follow instructions.

Have you noticed that God’s maps are not at all like google maps?

I’m glad they’re not.

God’s destinations for us are more about who we become on the journey and not so much where we go.  Maybe he does have an end location in minds for each of us, but he builds our faith as we attempt to find it.

God gave us his moral law, his Son, the “image of the invisible God,” and his Spirit to guide us. If we follow his moral law, stay close to Jesus and in tune with his Spirit, we will make it to our destination.  But every individual encounters a unique path.  Some people take a direct and straight course; others take a more circuitous route.

God’s guidance seems frustratingly limited to the next step, and even that is often at the last minute. He doesn’t usually tell us the number of feet or even miles before we’ll make a necessary change in our route. Nor does he nicely lay out upcoming lefts and rights. Just the next step.  I’d love to see the whole plan.

My husband and I have been on a roundabout journey toward our goals in this life, and I am starting to see at least one purpose of his one-step-at-a-time guidance.  We needed, and still need, to change before we are ready for the work that is ahead.  He has been faithful to provide for us while we figure it out.  The God-map has taught us to trust and love him much more than a google-maps version of directions would have.

I think God delights in his children pursuing their destinations in creative, potentially long and indirect ways, for that is how we learn to hear his voice.  It’s far more intimate that following a random voice on a phone.

Are we there yet?

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10 Responses to God-Maps and Google-Maps

  1. Jeannie says:

    I was struck by the part about how you and your husband needed to change before you would be ready for the work ahead. Maybe if we feel uncertainty about our life’s direction, that’s a sign that God’s doing some work in us that needs to be done before we move forward. Taking the step that seems right to take at the time, and no more, often seems to be the way God works.

    • Judy says:

      I can only assume that God has been preparing us, Jeannie. We have changed, for the better I trust, and the whole process has God written all over it. You’re absolutely correct – we have been doing our best to discern the next step and only the next step. I suppose that’s how we should always walk with the Lord. It would still be nice to see the whole plan, but I’m learning that it’s more interesting to wait and see! Thanks!

  2. Great read! A wonderful reminder to stay present in this moment instead of attempting to search for the final destination. Wise words, sister in Christ!

  3. Laura Droege says:

    This reminded me of a situation with my in-laws. My mother-in-law has Alzheimer’s, and though she still drives (which frightens me), she depends on her husband for navigation. (His eyesight is extremely poor, but his memory is sharp and he remembers every single detail and turn and landmark for anywhere they need to go.) Ray will tell her, “You need to turn here,” and she turns. A map would bewilder her. And don’t even get me started on how a GPS system might confuse her! But her husband is someone she trusts.

    She doesn’t know what will come next (like us in life) but he does (like God, in a sense), and her job is to follow his directions. The route may be a little longer than other ones, as Ray likes to avoid heavy traffic or areas that he knows she can’t handle anymore, but they get there just fine. Thankfully, unlike my father-in-law, God has perfect vision!

    • Judy says:

      What a great illustration of following God’s directions, Laura. You’re right – we’ll follow someone we trust when we don’t know which way to go. And “God has perfect vision,” for which I’m very thankful. Thanks!

  4. Karen Foster says:

    Enjoyed your post. I recall being in Germany at night time and had to rely on our GPS to find the hotel. As we drove along the curving roads in the dark, I was reminded–and thankful–the Holy Spirit guides our lives through the hills and valleys.

    • Judy says:

      Oh yes, I remember being in Germany about ten years ago, before GPS, and I was trying to navigate my husband through tight streets in Munich. It was one of those tense moments:) We made it, somehow! And somehow the Holy Spirit gets me where God wants me too.

  5. Larry Who says:

    “I think God delights in his children pursuing their destinations in creative, potentially long and indirect ways, for that is how we learn to hear his voice…”

    Amen.

  6. Helen Henderson says:

    This reminds me of Moses leading the people on what could have been an 11 day journey, but took 38 years. I was listening to a talk on Moody about this, just this week. It makes me feel a little better that I can make mistakes and take a little longer to get there and still be in God’s plan.

    • Judy says:

      Funny you should mention that, Helen. I was thinking the same thing, but didn’t take the time or the words to include it. I am definitely taking the circuitous route, but I’m learning the advantages to it. Maybe I’m physically AND spiritually directionally challenged. I’m used to turning around.

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