Now there’s a thought…
I heard it at a Vocations Conference recently and it got me thinking.
My relationship with Sat Navs has been mixed a best. One tried to send me down a flight of stairs in Bath in my wife’s car one day (I don’t think she would have been too happy). My current one was once so insistent that I should leave the M5 at Junction 25 that when I didn’t follow its advice, it tried to take be back there for the next 50 miles, even after I had reached my destination! At the same time, when I am trying to find somewhere I have never been before, or negotiating an unfamiliar one-way system in a large town or city, or when it’s dark and I can’t easily read road names or house numbers, I wonder how I ever managed without one.
The same problem arises whenever we compare God to anything. Some people have difficulty with calling God their Father because their own experience of their earthly father was so dreadful. The answer to that, of course, is that God is not merely like our earthly dad’s, rather he is the ultimate Father – the one we always wanted. God is always beyond our comparisons, our images, our comprehension. No allegory or parable is ever perfect, but there are helpful truths to learn nevertheless.
So when the person at the conference said, ‘God is like a Sat Nav’, what did he mean?
He meant there were a number of things in using his Sat Nav that reminded him of his walk with God, particularly in finding his vocation.
Here are a few – maybe you can think of more.
- A Sat Nav isn’t normally fixed on one route and one route only. It adapts with changing situations. A good Sat Nav (unlike mine) adapts the route to conditions ahead – road works, traffic jams, and road closures all prompt a recalibration of the best route to our destination. God’s guidance in our lives is just the same. Sometimes things outside our control can make the route difficult, but God adapts to get us to his destination for our lives. Whatever life throws at us, God’s purposes remain, and if he has to change the route to get us there, he does just that.
- A Sat Nav adapts to our mistakes. It doesn’t matter how many missed junctions or wrong turns we make, it adapts to them too, changes the route and carries on. Occasionally, it may have to resort to telling us to “Make a U-turn when safe to do so” but even then it gets us back on track. Sometimes people can get so worried that they missed their opportunity to find God’s calling for them, or took a wrong turn and worry that we have missed out on God’s plan for us as a result. But that is not what Jesus told us. He said “I am with you until the end of time” and the parable of going to find the one lost sheep, leaving the 99, shows us the lengths he will go to get us back on track.
- A Sat Nav is always stays patient. When we take a wrong turn, the Sat Nav’s voice remains patent and calm. I have never heard a Sat Nav shout at anyone, swear at anyone, or lose it temper. So it is with God. He shows us immense patience when we think we know better than him, when we change our minds, or simply decide to follow our own way. Sometimes I think that my Sat Nav should shout at me, but it doesn’t. Sometimes I think that God should lose it with me too, but he doesn’t. When we go wrong, he patently guides us back toward his way.
- A Sat Nav never gives up. It always adapts, gently corrects, and patiently guides us to our destination. God never gives up on us either. The only danger is that we stop listening or switch it off. Ultimately, the only way we can miss out on finding God’s calling for our lives, is if we stop listening, stop praying, or stop seeking him (and even then he may find a way through to us!)
So when I switch on my Sat Nav now, I remember the God who is also patiently guiding me around life’s bumps and problems, in spite of my wrong turns, and who never gives up on us along the way.
Perhaps God is like a Sat Nav after all.