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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Never lost, always found (24): Of dads and driving, God and GPS

Never have I had so many encounters with the GPS- global positioning system- than we took long drives the last time I was in the United States with my parents.




Given the dizzying, criss-crossing multitude of highways, signs, and lanes the US road interstate network has, the GPS is indeed God-sent. It allows the driver to drive in peace, having a guide that tells him or her where to go, where to turn, where to exit onwards his or her final destination.



In this sense, I thought to myself while experiencing the myriad conveniences of the GPS, this tool is a lot like God and our relationship with Him.

Plans
Before my dad starts any trip, he keys in to the GPS the address of the, say, hotel or tourist attraction which we want to visit, trusting fully that the GPS will get us there with the best possible route in the shortest amount of time.

Similarly, we lift up to God our plans, our intentions, basically our lives, buoyed by the fact that He will take us there, in places and circumstances where we will blossom and thrive. This trust in the Lord has been one of the earliest and most enduring life lessons given to me by my parents, that “In everything we do, put God first and He will direct and crown our efforts with success.”


Directions
And so we launch out of the garage and into the main highways. The GPS screen gives a visual representation of the road ahead, with appropriately labelled roadways, exits, and landmarks. Alongside the visual representation, there is also an audio component that gives intermittent guidance on where to go next, which side of a fork in the road do we take, etc.

In like manner, God has provided for us visual and auditory reminders of His love through constant guidance. He has given us the Scriptures, our clergy, our lay leaders, even everyday folk to serve as representations of His presence in our lives. Through these, through them, He is helping us see the horizon of the possible, guiding us towards the path promised of unending joy.


Detours
But as is wont to happen, the GPS is at times ignored. Seeming familiarity to a better parallel road will at times tempt the driver to veer away from what the GPS is indicating to be the road. At times we reject the GPS directions and heed the reminders of family and friends to take this exit or that freeway instead because the last time they did so, it cut their trip by half an hour or half a day even- only to find out that doing so now would actually double the hours on the road because of repairs. The GPS was right all along.

And so, too, do we fail, when we rely on our own devices, when we give in to the jeers and taunts of the crowd around, despite these being contrary to God’s will. We take on the easy expressways, we swerve onto reckless routes, and we tread on tempting turnpikes in search of shortcuts which turn out to be more costly. We reject God because we think we know better.


U-turns
However, with each wrong exit taken, the GPS seems to move ahead of the driver, re-visualizing the road ahead, and gives off this repetitious, at times irritating, but almost always welcome reminder: Turnaround when possible. It will proceed to give alternative routes to enable the driver to go back to the original route, even if the latter will keep on ignoring the GPS reminder. Sooner or later, especially when the driver accedes to the GPS direction, s/he will find him/herself again on the right track.

Respecting our free will, God seemingly allows us to stumble, wander, and eventually be lost in the maze of our own making. But in His infinite wisdom and mercy, He will give us second chances to get back on the road towards what is best for us. He will use any person, situation, or tool to rally us to what is good, what is right, and what is just. If only we will allow Him to do so.

Teamwork
It goes without saying though that the GPS cannot solely bring us to our destination. It takes a good vehicle, a competent driver, and a host of helpful travel gadgets and worthy road trip companions to make each destination merit the journey. No matter how hi-tech the GPS is, without the driver and his/her companions’ cooperation, they will never reach where they are supposed to go.

While with a snap of His finger God can all bring us to Him, He does not do so. He allows us to go to Him not out of fear of being punished but out of full knowledge and understanding of the immenseness of His mercy and love. He is showing us the way; it is but right that our response be to take the journey and persevere in the adventure.


Finish line
When we get to our destination, the GPS is turned off to conserve power. We may need to hook it up to our PCs to update its software. We need to be careful with it, lest the screen be scratched or worse shattered. Depending on our subscription, the GPS may not work in other countries. So in a way, the GPS can only take us so far.

Not our God, though. His power has created the moon and the stars. This same power perfectly crafted each grain of sand on the earth. His power has parted the Red Sea. This same power can relieve our anxiety before a job interview. Our God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His is a love that is all-encompassing, never fading nor failing. He is around us, anywhere, everywhere, crossing through political borders and language restrictions. His love and mercy are eternal, always fresh, available, accessible.

Our life’s True North Star, Inspiration, Guide…


For my Pop, who's taught us to drive, thereby giving us wings. Happy Father's Day
=]

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