Gigi, my Google Maps Genie, and How to Stay On Course with God

In my opinion, GPS navigation devices are some of the most amazingly helpful applications of consumer technology. Although I enjoy looking at big paper maps and atlases while planning a trip , I don’t miss having to pull over on the side of the highway to read them. Not to mention that with my terrible middle-aged vision I can barely see the lines on a map anymore. Magnifying glass , anyone ?

Google Maps is my preferred app, but there are others like Waze and the iPhone Map app. One Christmas I bought each of my older sons a dash mounted Tom Tom GPS unit and they said it was the best gift ever .

I have come to depend on Google maps quite a bit and after getting past the initial learning period I find it very quick and easy to use and I consider Gigi, the genie who lives in my phone and gives me turn by turn directions , to be a good friend of mine. But I do tell her to be quiet if she gets too bossy. I tell her “thank you” and “good job” when she says “You have arrived at your destination!”.

However, these magical devices only work well when you use them correctly. Namely , when you put in the correct address and choose the route you want after actually looking it over and making sure it’s taking you where you want to go . Otherwise, you’ll find yourself lost! If you just search for directions to McDonalds, you might end up at one across town if you don’t choose the nearest location. Please tell me I am not the only one that this has happened to. And they are also pretty useless when you’re in a downtown area with tall buildings . Better print out the directions for those trips .

Sometimes things go awry with Gigi. Just about a month ago I was in a park I’d never been to before northeast of Houston. I had driven there, following my sister, from another park and I didn’t know the quickest way home . My sister and I had discussed a certain route and that was the one in my mind when I got ready to go. I had forgotten to start the GPS until after I was already driving slowly out of the park, so I grabbed my phone , tapped Google maps, touched the destination box , tapped Home from the saved results, and then hit Start. I didn’t take the time to look at the route since I was driving . After awhile I started noticing that things didn’t look the way I expected. I felt like I was going the wrong direction. I had that sinking feeling in my chest. But I kept driving and finally I saw a main highway that I didn’t expect to see. Then I knew I was not going where I thought I was going . My app said to get on that highway and go south, but I didn’t want to. I went west for a little longer.

But then that road started to go north, which was not good, so I finally pulled over and looked at the directions . I saw that I was now about to head into a town with traffic so I decided to turn around and retrace my route and get back on the path that Gigi had chosen, because it was too late to go the way I thought I was going . Yes , she was taking me Home, but it was a route I didn’t want to take. And since I discovered it so late , it meant I’d wasted a lot of time and miles. But eventually I got out of the traffic and onto the fast moving toll road and made it to my destination.

Later I inspected the map on my computer and discovered that there were two routes with almost the same amount of distance and time, but one was more rural and that would have been my preferred route, but I failed to check before I clicked start. And another problem was that since I had no previous experience with this particular route, I wasn’t sure what it should look like.

Let’s examine my mistakes and see if we can apply this lesson to our Christian walk. First consider the state of mind I was in when I left the park . I was very tired from a long hike the day before , sleeping in a camper overnight, and a strenuous trail bike ride. I was also in a hurry to get home because I was worried about things going on there . So I was mentally and physically tired and distracted by anxiety. Next I made the mistake of assuming without verifying . I didn’t check that the route was correct . Then , when my gut and eyes tried to warn me that I was off course , I ignored them and kept going. Easy to do considering my state of mind. Then to make matters worse , I tried to get out of trouble quickly by guessing at a new route without looking at the app. Finally I surrendered and pulled over even though there was a lot of traffic.

This sounds a lot like my life when I don’t pay attention to my GPS, the Holy Spirit. I have to remember to slow down, be careful to get enough rest, use caution when I’m stressed, pay attention to the Holy Spirit and not get in such a rush that I forget to verify my assumptions. Also I need to be careful in unfamiliar situations such as with new people or learning new things. In the case of getting home, I would have made it home by either route. But if I get off the path of life that God has chosen for me, in other words, if I am not seeking and verifying and living in God’s truth, the consequences could be much more than a few minutes lost and some frustration. I can think of many painful examples. I thank God for his grace and mercy and patience with me!

How about you? Are you sure of your route? Have you taken time to verify that it’s correct according to God’s word? One way we can get off course is by getting wrong information. Be careful that every friend, pastor and teacher you listen to, every book you read, every podcast, every video matches up with the truth of God’s word! Make sure you do not lose precious days or years believing that you are following God when you are actually being led down the wrong path. Satan is very cunning and will use all the tricks in the book to misdirect those who are new Christians, weak Christians, or prideful Christians. And we can also get in trouble when we try to do too much. We can get in a rush, cut corners, and make mistakes even we are trying to do the right thing . But God has given us his Holy Spirit to help us. Listen to that voice that is warning you that you are off course. Then humbly and quickly turn back and get back to God who loves you and will forgive you for your mistakes.

Thank you heavenly Father for your care and protection and for guiding us along the paths of life as we serve you. Amen.

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