Friday, February 8, 2008

How God is Not Like a GPS Device

This time last week, my husband and I were on our way to Atlanta to visit his cousin and her family for the evening. We decided this would be an excellent time to test out the GPS device I received for Christmas. We had Adrienne's address, and I thought I knew the approximate area she lives in, but we didn't have specific directions. So off we went.

If you're familiar with Atlanta, you know there are many ways to get wherever you want to go. You can hit I-285, the "Perimeter," and go around what used to be the outer rim of the city. If you're braver, you can take I-75/I-85 right smack through downtown. These two interstate highways flow together for a few miles through the middle of town, then split again. While they're together (the Connector), they are not for the faint of heart. About six lanes wide, they're always crowded. If the cars aren't in gridlock, they zip along at somewhere between 65 and 400 miles an hour, approximately three inches from one another. And here we were, testing the GPS.

First of all, with the two of us listening to the spoken directions and me reading the directions on the little screen, I still managed to misinterpret the GPS lady's first crucial directions. (I know it's just an electronic voice, but it sounds like an irritated woman. She's probably irritated because we seldom do what she says.) For about 15 minutes, the direction at the top said "I-75 to I-285 West." I knew you could get to Adrienne's neighborhood by taking I-285 West, so that made sense, and I told Dave that's what we were doing. But at the very last second, she told us to get in the left lane and take I-75. Ha! Not only is the GPS lady irritated, she's also insane! So we just got on I-285 West.

Usually when we disobey, she gets over her snit pretty quickly and recalculates to follow our preferred route. Not this time. We followed her next directions, and by golly, she made us circle around and get back on I-75.

You'd think I would have learned after that experience. A few miles later, in the 400-mile-an-hour bumper-to-bumper traffic, we approached the split where I-75 and I-85 would go their separate ways. I was sure we needed to go to the right on I-85, but she kept telling us to keep left on I-75. We started to panic. My eyes were glued to the screen. I told Dave maybe I was wrong and didn't really know where Adrienne lives, because GPS Lady insisted we stay on I-75.

When we were literally at the split, the lady barked at us to go left on I-85! This time Dave managed to do it, but let me tell you, it was pretty exciting for a few seconds there.

All in all the GPS device is amazing. It led us right to Adrienne's door. You know by now how my mind works. When I first started playing with this device, I thought, I could make an analogy out of this. It's like God's guidance. He only shows me one turn at a time. I have to trust it's the right one and that I'll end up in the right place, because I'm not seeing a list of all the turns ahead of me. Plus, I might not always understand the route that's chosen for me. I might look back and think, hey, I could have chosen a more direct route. There's some reason for the choice that I'm not privvy to--but there is a reason.

But then my analogy started breaking down. God's guidance may seem to be late in coming--but it always comes at exactly the right time. God knows the whole story. He knows about the wild drivers and the bumper to bumper traffic. He knows how long it's going to take us to make a move, and he's going to take give us just enough time to make that move--safely.

For less heavily populated areas, though--I'm still going to love using my GPS!