The LORD our God said to us in Horeb, "You have stayed long enough at this mountain." (Devarim / Deuteronomy 1:6; ESV)
We recently bought our first GPS unit. As many of you are aware, a GPS is a pretty useful device. I like the way it gives you a real-time dynamic map as you drive. It's so nice to allow intersection after intersection to pass by without any worry that I will miss my turn. Then as I approach my intersection, the voice kindly, but firmly informs me that my turn is coming up. Then it repeats the prompt just before the turn itself.
I get a bit of a kick out of how the GPS recalculates whenever I don't listen to its directions. It has a destination in mind and its own way of determining how I should get there. Call me stubborn, but at times I really do think I know better. And at times I have. Other times, not so much. Sometimes I miss my turn because I didn't hear it properly. I may have been distracted or perhaps I misunderstood the prompt.
Trusting in the Messiah is like having a GPS. He has a direction for our lives in mind and has determined how best to get there. When we allow him to guide us, he doesn't shout incessantly in our ear that we are going the right way. The intersections of life - those things that can send our lives in a completely different direction - simply pass by. As they do, we needn't be concerned, because they are not for us. But from time to time, as we approach a turn we need to take, he whispers firmly that it's time to turn.
As God calls us to make these turns, we sometimes ignore his directions. Sometimes it's because we think we know better, other times we are distracted and don't hear him. Sometimes we are forced to turn as the circumstances of life block us from continuing on our preferred course. When we don't follow his directions, like the GPS, he recalculates our course and prompts us accordingly in order to takes us where he wants us to go.
The people of Israel were on a forty-year journey to the Promised Land. It should have been only two years, but because they wouldn't listen to God's instructions, they had a much longer journey to take. The destination was always the same, but the turns were different due to their stubborn lack of faith. They really didn't like the turn God was telling them to take the first time he directed them to enter the Promised Land. So he recalculated their trip, which added an additional 38 years. They still got there, but it was a lot more bother, plus the fact that the whole adult generation who thought they knew better died during that time.
I know that no matter how good my GPS might be, it's not perfect. In fact, because of that I need to be careful not to fully depend on it. But God is different. His sense of direction and his determined plan for our lives are without error. That said, I am not always careful to follow his every prompt as I should. Sometimes I think I know better. Other times, for one reason or another, I am distracted and I don't hear him as I should.
You might be uncomfortable with my comparing God to a GPS. I don't blame you. Besides his perfect accuracy, it can be a lot harder to hear his directions than those given by these little devices. At the same time, however, God is determined to direct us. He is constantly at work to take us in the direction that he knows is best for us. He also knows we don't hear him that well most of the time. But, thankfully, he has far more methods at his disposal to get us where he wants us to go than the best GPS units.
How he communicates those prompts is his business. The less stubborn we are regarding the direction of our lives and the more we pay attention to his leading the more likely we will hear them and the more our lives will be a blessing - both to ourselves and to others.