When Your G-P-S Goes A-W-O-L

Wouldn’t you agree? Nobody can get lost in a Main Street only town. Don’t tell my mamma! She got lost in Ellicott City 50 years ago! Nobody should lose their car at the Mall on a winter weekday, 4 PM, lot uncrowded. I did. (Hmm, maybe it’s hereditary.) Anybody can make a wrong turn or a bad decision. My friend Max grabbed some bland, gummy cookies off the kitchen counter on the way to work. (His wife and daughter’d been to a school bake sale yesterday.) Max found out. His breakfast: homemade dog biscuits. Bad choice. (All day, he says, when he scratched his tummy, his left leg kicked.) You and I face sterner choices. We need more urgent direction. We get lost in more important ways.  I’ve been asked, “What’s it take to overcome…when we’re uncertain?” What to believe: when bad things happen to good people. ‘When we’re having trouble figuring out our purpose, and need direction in our days and in our lives. We need a better system than ask-the-guy-on-the-corner, or, turn-on-the-voice-on-my-cell-phone. Do I stay in this relationship or not, defend my kids or discipline them over school stuff, take the job or leave it, stay at home or venture out, pray for a miracle or pull the plug and trust the outcome? Where do we go for direction when our personal guidance system, our GPS, goes AWOL?

Try this. Jesus did. His grandpa David did. LOOK UP BEFORE YOU STEP OUT. INQUIRE BEFORE YOU FIRE. THROW IN WITH GOD BEFORE YOU’RE READY TO THROW IN THE TOWEL! WHEN THINGS ARE LOOKIN’ DONE, TALK TO NO.1! We read another David story today. King Saul’s been on David’s case. Woulda killed him sure. Prince Jonathan’s been his protector. Now, both are done-in by those cuss-ed Amalekites. The guy who killed the king is standin’ right in front of David, blood on his hands, Saul’s armlet & crown at the crook of his elbow. David grieves his friend, stands relieved of his enemy, on the threshold of his heart’s desire. And before he takes another step, he does the first thing. “David inquired of the Lord, ‘Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?’ God answered, ‘Go up.’ David said, ‘To which shall I go?’ God said, ‘Hebron.’” David doesn’t start off, goof up, then ask around. We often do. No, he’s got a holy habit. He runs his options by God 1st. ‘Asks, “Have I missed any?” Listens!

Us? We’re too prone to our own devices and designs. We’d like a GPS for life as well as the car. In the absence of such easy options, we sail through life like Chris Columbus. (By the way, Happy Belated Birthday.) Columbus set out not knowin’ where he was goin’, got there and knew not where he was, got home and knew not where he’d been. I’ve had days, weeks, months like that. Anybody else? David did better. His habit: enquire, listen, follow. He had help. The ephod. It’d put your Blackberry to shame. A vest. Don it. Dial in to its precious stones, askin’, prayin’ God provides. The Urim & the Thummim, the brightest, light like diamonds, or flash a word, or whatever (we’re not sure), and God speaks the way to go. Ask with an open heart; God answers with a clear word. Will Saul attack? Yes. Will he capture me? Yes. Shall I chase the bad guys? Yes. Will I win? Yep!

W E L L… Wouldn’t you like an ephod for yourself? Or at least a gismo-galactic to guide your way? ‘Turns out you got it! You just need to use it regularly, habitually, 1st! God still promises, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise and watch over you.” Ps 32:8 “Seek his will in all you do and God will direct your paths.” Prov. 3:6 “Whether you turn to the right or the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’” Isa. 30:21 God offers us: Jesus. And Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.” Jn. 10: 27-28 See, here’s the thing. The God who guided David guides you and guides me. Not with a vest, but a Voice; not with diamonds in stone, but in a Deliverer; not with a satellite signal, but a Stone-Rolled-Away Savior! God doesn’t provide us with a prop, but a prayer, and the name of Jesus in which to pray. And with the Spirit that prays for us, with sighs too deep for words. But it won’t work if we wait. ‘Won’t help if we hang back. Won’t guide if we try to go first… on our own.

Friends ask, how do I overcome when my personal guidance system crashes? ‘Get right without a satellite? ‘Do my purpose in a world so seemingly pointless, where pain has no proportion and suffering no shame? (Little kids die, old folks want to and can’t.) Here’s how, as best I know how. Trust before you trek. We’ve said that.

Ask before you amble. Listen before you lumber. But then, too,  Bein the Word! Be… the Word. The ancients had their vest with stones. We have a Book as our Rock. It’s easier to read, understand and remember than ever. You can tote it. Download it. Text it. Dial it. See it on video, hear it on radio. Yet it never changes. It is still, “Living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to… the joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Heb. 4: 12 Just read it, and it seeps into your bones. You’re lonely and confused; you feel His hand on your shoulder, “I will never fail or forsake you.” Heb 13: 5 You’re uptight, tight as a piano string in a “fridgidator”sic and you hear this word, “Don’t be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God.” Phil 4: 6 Maybe with your work, or a family ungrateful at home, you’ve just had it. ‘Tired o’ keepin’ on keepin’ on. And you hear this whisper, “Whatever you do, work at it with your whole heart, as working for the Lord,” for so you are! Col 3: 23 “Let the word of Christ in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise. Use his words to teach and counsel each other.” Col  3: 16

Live in the Word… in the family of the faithful. Whatever you face, somebody else who believes has too. Right here. You have a life library right here. A Bible sitting all around you. “Consider the outcome of their life, and imitate their faith.” Heb. 13: 7 [E.g.s] Trouble with schoolmates? Find someone who gets along without giving in. ‘With your partner, find a strong couple. ‘With your work, find a Believer/businessperson with a backbone for doing right. (ML’s right) You and I, we don’t need and ephod, we’ve got a Savior, a Book, and all God’s family gathered ‘round.

And don’t be surprised if God doesn’t just speak to your heart in Christ. “My sheep hear my voice, I know them, they follow me.” Sometimes, we just have a feeling. [Necker]. We need to listen. (We need also beware, for Satan too has a voice, but Jesus never tells us to go where God’s word could not lead!) Listen to your heart in Jesus Christ!

So… you wanna be an overcomer, but your guidance system’s outta whack?! WELL… LEARN TO LISTEN, SEE, YOU HAVE A HEART FOR GOD. YOU HAVE A FAITH-FAMILY RIGHT HERE. LET IT LEAD YOU. YOU HAVE GOD’S WORD FOR YOUR ROCK. STAND ON IT. YOU HAVE A SAVIOR TO LISTEN FOR. WAIT FOR HIM.

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