If you’ve ever traveled with a child before, you’re all too familiar with this phrase: “Are we there yet?” If you are not, in fact, there yet, the inevitable follow-up question is “How much longer until we get there?” In today’s GPS navigation-based world, we can easily determine the answers to those questions.
I am one of the most directionally challenged people I know. I used to get lost in the days of folding maps, and I still get lost with multiple navigation and GPS technologies at my fingertips. It gets even worst when I have to navigate somewhere where there is incomplete map data for the final leg of the journey. My son attended non-contact flag football camp at a not-so-local high school for a week over the summer. I entered the name of the high school into my phone’s GPS, and the phone mapped out directions to the high school. We started out on our journey, dutifully following the directions provided by the GPS. After we got off of the interstate, the GPS told us to drive under the overpass. To our surprise, the GPS proclaimed that we had arrived at the high school. Yeah, not so much. To try to get there a different way, I typed in the physical street address of the high school, and the navigation took us closer, getting us to a traffic light to turn right. After the right turn, the navigation showed a U-turn image and said, “proceed to the route”. I U-turned, as instructed, to find yet another U-turn graphic, followed by, “proceed to the route”. After being stuck in this circular mess for two loops, it was clear we would have to figure out the rest of the drive ourselves. Just for good measure, though, it told me one last time to make a right turn – into a swamp. No, thanks.
What does one do when they are in a neighborhood with a roundabout and no GPS guidance, but they know they are close? Eliminate the impossible. Whatever remains, however unlikely, must be true. We took the turn to the right, and it led to a dead end. We went back to the roundabout and went straight. We found the middle school and the elementary school, so we knew we were close. We then hit a three-way intersection. The middle school and elementary school were to the right, so we went right. No high school to be found. We then went left at the three-way, and found the high school. Success!
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I always like to start a theological lesson with a story. If not, well, now you know. That’s why I told this GPS story to take this concept where it will now go.
God is quite a navigator. He has given us a tremendous roadmap for success in life in the form of The Bible, especially in Proverbs. He’s also given us a clear roadmap to salvation from our lives of sin. By giving his son, Jesus Christ, to be sacrificed for our sins, he opened the road to us to be forgiven and to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. However, this process operates much like a GPS. Really? How could these two things possibly be related? Well, just like the GPS got me and my son most of the way to the high school, God’s plan takes us most of the way to our salvation. However, just like me and my son had to take the last steps ourselves without being led to the high school by the hand, neither does our salvation come to us by being led to it by hand. We have to take the last steps ourselves by taking the leap of faith into God’s roadmap to the destination of salvation. John 3:16-18 validates this plan, as quoted below:
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.”
This is where the last leg of the journey becomes our responsibility: faith. Faith that God’s roadmap will lead us to the Kingdom of Heaven. Faith that Jesus really did die for our sins and for our salvation. We have to take that final leg of the journey ourselves in order to get to the eternal destination. God has laid out the roadmap and the plan; only we can choose to take that last leg of the trip.
Why is this faith so difficult for us? Is it because we can’t see God, Jesus, or Heaven with our own eves? Most people have no more idea than a goat how flipping a light switch turns on a lightbulb. They know little to nothing about how the electricity gets from the power station to the lightbulb. Yet when they walk into a room for the first time and flip the light switch, they place faith in the idea that the light will indeed turn on. And, sadly, they place no faith in the idea that a loving God created them in His own image and loved them enough to sacrifice his own son for their salvation.
What’s worse, people put unqualified faith in other people but won’t put faith in God’s roadmap to salvation. When people go to a restaurant and order food, they place absolute faith in the chef that he or she will cook the food correctly and not serve them food that will sicken or kill them due to improper preparation. I’m not aware of anyone around me in a restaurant actually asking to watch the cook prepare the food and asking to see the cook’s professional and educational credentials to qualify them to do so. That’s some pretty strong faith in someone you can’t see to nourish your body.
Even worse, we’re forced to place faith in a complete stranger to save our lives in a crisis. This stranger is known as the ER doctor. When acute injury or illness strikes, we are forced to seek urgent medical care from a complete stranger in a white lab coat. They aren’t our family physician with whom we are quite comfortable and familiar. They are someone we’ve never met before, and we place complete trust in them to heal us. I’ve been to ERs before as a patient, to visit family, and as a law enforcement officer to meet with victims of crime. Never once, in all the times I’ve been to an ER, did any patient ask the attending physician to produce their MD diploma for their review nor their training records from the hospital. They simply place faith in a complete stranger to heal them.
To tie all of this together, please understand that the roadmap to our salvation is already laid out, but we must take the leap of faith to complete the journey. Just like you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink, God can lay out the plan to salvation, but we must embrace it. Faith is the key; believe that the roadmap created by God leads to the destination of salvation and eternal life in Heaven, and you will arrive.
One last thought: if you’re planning to navigate on Earth’s roadways to someplace you’ve never been, doing some pre-planning might be a good idea. I don’t want to loud out any companies that got us lost, but it had something to do with a fruit company and a company that makes wagons for folks. Look before you leap!
May God bless you, now and always.