Imagine being lost in the woods, trying to find your way out day after day without any way of being sure of where you are going.
Then someone shows up with a GPS and suddenly you not only know where you are, but in what direction you can find the nearest town, what town it is, and something of what you can expect when you get there!
This makes for a great metaphor. Because what a GPS gives us in the visible world, God has given us in the unseen world. Which lets us know where we are and where we need to go. And more! We can even discover who we are, how we can grow, and why we can trust this God who loves us beyond words.
Of the resources God has given to us, our most reliable of course is His Word, the Bible, God’s revelation to us that gives us both the big story of life as well as hundreds of examples of how God intends for us to live (or not live). Even more, the Bible reveals to us God’s heart, His character, and His desire to be with us and live in us and among us.
We also have the Holy Spirit as our traveling companion, mentor, and guide. As we learn how to listen to His leading, He can reveal even more of the unseen world to us as we grow deeper in relationship with God.
But can we really trust the GPS?
Now imagine what would happen if the grid for our physical GPS was off by 5 miles. We would continue following it until we found ourselves standing in the middle of a field that the GPS said was the intersection of Front and Main in the little town we were trying to get to. And having no idea how far off the coordinates might be, we would think very seriously about tossing the little device as far as we could throw it. Or if the ground we are standing on was freshly plowed, we might fancy that they recently tore down the town and the GPS is correct after all.
Or perhaps in one last act of desperation we might reboot the device and discover that it had corrected itself and the town was really just 5 miles off to the West.
If I might make an observation, I think a lot of the Christian world is working with a malfunctioning GPS. In our efforts to clarify what the Bible says, we have built a number of rather thick lenses through which we read the text, along with some elaborate ways to think about the words we see. And the result has been that many of us have found ourselves in the middle of a desert when the words we read said we were standing in an oasis.
It’s hard to know what to do, when we did all the right things and it came out so much differently than we thought. Many people in recent generations have come to the conclusion that the GPS itself is to blame, and they will have nothing more to do with the Christian faith. Still others insist that we simply misunderstood the nature of the oasis; that we are standing exactly where we are supposed to be. That this is as good as it gets here on this earth.
But the truth far more compelling:
Because it was the lenses we were using that led us astray. And once we are willing to reboot the whole thing and go back to the original Way that Jesus revealed to us, the big story of God becomes far more grand and beautiful and bountiful than we ever saw through the lenses we were using before. The Spirit of God is far more accessible and reliable than we ever knew. The abundant life is a real experience, not some ideal for super Christians only.
Thankfully, this revolution has been under way for over 30 years now. And our hope is that more and more people will come to know the reality of the Kingdom of God and the kind of relationship He desires to have with us.
And from what I can tell, the GPS is telling us that there is even more to be found than what we have discovered so far! And the Spirit says, “Yes. Come and follow Me.”