Remember paper maps? And the challenge of folding them back into their proper form? Or those detailed book maps with their dozens of pages showing main streets, side streets and points of interest? Technology has relegated such devices to the past, I guess, though I must confess I still prefer a paper map for an overall perspective.
Our first computerized GPS was a Garmin. Shawn loved it. I hated it, especially that sneering woman’s voice icily informing me that she was “recalculating!” Sorry, ma’am, but I am driving, and I do not agree with your specified directions.
Ms. Garmin got me back in a big way, though, as we rolled into Seattle in the dark hoping to catch the last ferry across to Bainbridge Island where we were staying. Miss that ferry and we would face a long drive down to Tacoma and around the long way.
As we navigated Seattle streets Ms. Garmin, without warning, replaced the maps with those of Los Angeles and left us rudderless in an unfamiliar place. Amazing how God is still with us when we feel lost. He had a plan for our protection, and you can read about it here: Misguidance from the Crazy GPS Lady.
Today my truck sports Apple Carplay, and I can connect my phone into a USB port, dial up the Maps app, speak in my destination and enjoy the ride. Apple handles the navigation, time estimates, monitors speed limit signs, and gives calm and useful directions like “Turn right at the next light!” And my phone charges while this all happens.
Ever wish that spiritual directions were as easy to follow? I’m reading through Hosea, one of those tiny books tucked in at the end of the Old Testament. In the book God spells out the issues he had with Israel using the object lesson of Hosea’s unfaithful wife. We can imagine the heartache Hosea felt as his wife cheated on him, and in imagery too plain to misunderstand, we learn that God feels the same when we turn our backs on Him.
The staggering part is that often when we turn away we may not realize it. Israel’s strength as a nation declined even as the age of the citizens increased. They were old enough to know better, yet failed to connect the dots that blessings had evaporated in proportion to the decline in their walk with God.
Strangers devour his strength, Yet he does not know it; Gray hairs also are sprinkled on him, Yet he does not know it…Yet they have not returned to the LORD their God, Nor have they sought Him, for all this.Hosea 7:9-10 NASB Selected
And they do not cry to Me from their heart…They turn away from Me.Hosea 7:14 NASB Selected
Israel turned in every direction seeking comfort from the elements of God’s judgment. Idolatry, pagan fertility rituals, alliances with stronger foreign powers—and yet they missed the one turn that would make a difference.
They turn, but not upward…Hosea 7:16 NASB Selected
I recently read the words of another Bible character, Solomon, who experienced a spiritual decline as his years increased. His journal, Ecclesiastes, describing his search for meaning is available to the inquiring reader. After much experimentation Solomon concluded:
All that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor and this was my reward for all my labor. Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun.Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 NASB
Vanity. Wind which cannot be captured. No profit. He had forgotten words he had penned earlier:
Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, To retire late, To eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.Psalms 127:1-2 NASB
Want a life of purposeful meaning? Better include God in the building. How could the same man write both texts? His outlook had shifted. His perspective had grown distorted. He vision had shifted off God. Solomon, in simple terms, had turned in the wrong direction.
We live in a day of political and economic upheaval. Moral decay abounds. Hatred runs rampant as social media and the Internet have become powerful tools in the hands of those who promote unrest. Simple courtesy is rarely observable. The mantra is, “Me first, and get out of my way!” (And that’s in the parking lot of the mega church.)
My friend, we may want to give up. But don’t. Let’s click our eyeballs onto God. None of these developments have caught God by surprise. They represent birth pains of the next stage in His plan. And we have a spectacular future coming.
To quote a friend, “Run it straight, and keep it twixt the ditches!” Avoid making a wrong turn—like Solomon, like Israel, like Hosea’s wife.