These days many people drive cars fitted with a sat-nav. When activated, a monotonous and mechanical voice directs you with comments like “In two hundred yards turn right into the High Street”.
The prophet Isaiah writes in Chapter 30 verse 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Of course Isaiah knew nothing about sat-navs. The experience he is describing and encouraging others to experience is in our hearts and minds. It is intensely loving and personal.
In chapter 48 Isaiah says that God who is “your redeemer and Holy One” has sent him “with His Spirit” who speaks to him these words about the direction he should take. “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, and who directs you in the way you should go”. (Isaiah 48 16-17)
Jesus personalized this “direction finding” to an infinite level. When Thomas asks Jesus to show us the way He replied “I am the way” (John 14:6). On many occasions in the Gospels Jesus tells people to, “follow me”. That two word instruction applies to us all.
Of course we have to play our own part in travelling our path through life in the way God wants.
Firstly we need to ask the Holy Spirit to guide us. Jesus explained to his disciples “when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth”. (John 16:13)
Secondly we must learn how to listen for the instructions. They will not bombard us like the sat-nav. in fact as Elijah discovered they are often the merest hint or whisper. (I Kings 19:12)
Finally we need to obey. If I ignore the sat-nav and go straight on rather than turning right after two hundred yards (as the loud voice in the car told me), I will miss the High Street altogether!
Like most drivers my sat-nav is turned off for local runs. However I can see the value of these amazing gadgets, if I am on a long or unknown journey.
The trouble is that all too often we treat the guidance of Almighty God rather in the way we treat our sat-nav. Where we have big decisions to make like moving home, or changing our job we pray and earnestly try to seek God’s will.
Unfortunately however, we take the day to day living of our lives for granted and “switch off” attending to the Lord’s instructions. Because the Lord whispers to us we miss or ignore His directions which are so important if we are to go the way he intends for us. Simple words like “phone Jim” or “move the chairs back” come to mind but we do not act on them. It is the experience of many Christians that when we start to listen and obey these simple commands other things seem to “work out”.
At some time in the future taking all those very simple and often obvious directions will lead us to the destination the Lord has planned for us as we “follow him”.