My wife and kids came with me on a business trip this week. I had plenty of free-time between meetings, so we thought we could integrate a “mini-vacation” into the trip. Everything was going great, until my GPS betrayed me.
The GPS is supposed to be man’s technological best friend. It means never having to stop and ask for directions. It eliminates the millennium-old argument between husbands and wives that inevitably ends in the wife saying, “You should have stopped to ask for directions.”
At least that’s what I thought before Monday afternoon.
My first two meetings were in Moab, Utah – the home of Arches National Park. If you’ve ever been to the park, or seen pictures of it, you know how breathtaking the vistas and arches are. So after my meetings were completed, we made our way into the park and hiked for a while and “oohed” and “awed” over the amazing views. And after a couple of hours, it was time for us to hit the road to Salt Lake City for my Tuesday appointments.
My wife had the park map. I had a GPS. I don’t need no stinkin’ map. So when the GPS told me to head north to get out of the park, also cutting off several miles of driving before we hit I-70, I told her we would trust the GPS. And thus began our two hour adventure.
Let’s just say that the journey involved washboard gravel trails, broken-down mini-vans with stranded Asian tourists, and cows. Lots of cows. I mean several hundred that were taking their sweet little time walking down the very center of what was technically considered a road. (Have you ever had a stare down with an angry mother cow, protecting her calf?) What should have taken a few minutes, took hours. Sure, we had some laughs and made some memories (along with a video that will unfortunately last until I can get a hold of my wife’s iPhone to delete it), but that’s not the point.
I thought I could trust my GPS.
How many of our lives feel like this? Here we are, going down the road thinking we’ve got it all figured out, only to find that we’re off on some abandoned trail, scratching our head, wondering how we got in this mess, and more importantly, how do we get out of it? I’ve felt this way more often than I want to admit.
My problem in Moab was assuming that my GPS was more accurate than my wife’s map, simply because it was advanced technology. Surely “newer” has to mean “better.” And my problems in life usually come down to the same thing: trying to follow the latest spiritual fad that promises to lead to fulfillment, and success, and happiness. But these new ideas seldom pay off. They usually just leave us scratching our heads. Sometimes, what we really need is an old fashioned map.
That “map” is the Scriptures. The Hebrew word for this is “Torah.” It means, “Instructions”. It’s an old school, “take a minute to stop what you’re doing, read it and figure out the path” map to eternal life. It’s not fancy. It isn’t really all that complicated. But in the end, it’s the only way we have to truly navigate through the insanity we call life.
The Lord said through the prophet, Jeremiah: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls…” (Jeremiah 6:16 ESV). Jesus called this ancient path His “yoke,” and taught that, while it wouldn’t be a walk in the park, following Him would be simple (Matthew 11:30). And He summarized it in two commands: love God, and love others (Matthew 22:36-40).
I love my new technology. As I write this, I’ve got my iPad on my left side, my iPhone on my right, and my laptop exactly where it’s designed to be. I have dozens of hi-tech tools available that promise to help me become a better man of God. I have a Bible memory system loaded on my phone that pops up a message every hour reminding me to memorize the verse of the day; an app that allows me to download teachings from the greatest pastors in the world; and a widget that makes it easier for me to quickly find the Bible verse I’m looking for. And just like my GPS, these things are useful tools. But there are times in life where those tools become a bigger hindrance than help.
What I need is to simplify; to unplug, get away with my Bible, and spend some time reading the map. I may find that I’m way off course. But only then can I stop scratching my head, and start figuring out how to get out of my mess.