Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
- Luke 15:1-7
“Amazing Grace, How
sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
T’was blind but now I see.”
- John Newton, Amazing Grace
A couple of days ago, I was awakened with an earworm, On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe by Harry Warren (tune) and Johnny Mercer (lyrics). Earworms rarely call me to action, but after singing my own screwed up lyrics to the tune for a while (blending verses, making up my own words where I forgot the right one, etc.), I went into the bedroom where my wife was watching television. I told her about the earworm and said that I doubted if we could get to any of the three towns. Atchison and Topeka are in Kansas with Santa Fe being in New Mexico. My wife said we could take the train, but I had a less expensive idea.
“Why don’t we get lost?” I asked.
There is a highway in Pennsylvania that we have driven, or at least I have, thousands of times. This is not an exaggeration in that I used a portion of the road to drive to and from work each day for nearly twenty years and for over fifteen years, the road was our preferred way home from church, sometimes both ways. So, more than ten thousand times, as a minimum. One problem, we almost always turned left at the stop sign going to work. We rarely turned right. A further complication, when we turned right, we took the left fork in the road, a little further down, almost every time when we went that way, if we even got to the fork in the road.
For that rarely travelled right fork down the rarely travelled right turn at the stop sign, my wife could remember once when a friend took her down that road to find some obscure places to shop. When our son was in high school in 1996, we went down that road to hear him play in the band at a football game, an away game. I had been down that road to go golfing, once in Pennsylvania and once just past the state line in West Virginia. I had never been past the golf course.
So, when I said that we were going to get lost, my wife started singing Amazing Grace. The thing is that I had a rough idea of what roads to take. As we drove down the highway in uncharted, for us, territory, my wife asked me what I was looking for. I told her that I was looking for a substantial road that goes north and south. She asked what would happen if I didn’t find one.
I said, “We’ll get wet.” When she asked why. I replied, “We’re going straight toward the Ohio River.”
This might have been mind-boggling to get wet when we were driving through mountainous territory, but eventually we started down and down, ending in the small town of Wellsburg, WV, less than two blocks from the river’s edge. We then took the river road north, up to Weirton, WV and then back into Pennsylvania from there.
It was spontaneous and fun. We saw the same things we’d seen before around our area, just different cows, hills, barns, etc.
But were we ever lost? My sense of direction is failing in my old age, but on that day, I felt that I knew where I was going. My own internal GPS (Global Positioning System) was working great.
But the next day, my wife wasn’t feeling well. As we went to the doctor to find out that a sinus infection had started to cause fluid build-up and the onset of bronchitis, she had a totally different idea regarding not getting lost the day before.
She said, “With God’s GPS, you always find the best road, straight to your destination.”
So many times, I have heard of people who drive in circles, following GPS instructions. Albert Einstein is credited to have said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”
Yet, when the GPS tells you to turn right four times in a row, you find yourself where you started. Why do you follow the GPS instructions a second and third time, driving in even more circles? We become so dependent upon a man-made device that can make mistakes, we forget how we used to do it. I have had the GPS signal fail due to tall buildings in a city or being in a deep mountain valley. It can fail. A phone can lose its signal. If too reliant on these devices, you may be lost indeed.
What helped my internal GPS was a general knowledge of the terrain, having studied maps in the past, looking for an adventure that never happened 20 years ago. But God’s creation also helped. It was sunny. It was morning. I was driving west. All I needed was the shadows pointing in the direction I was going to know that I was not lost. My knowledge of a river before us gave me confidence of another road ahead, otherwise there should have been a sign stating that we were on a dead end road.
I have mentioned it before. We need to occasionally unplug. I could have used a map and if I never got the map folded properly afterwards, I would have been flooded with even more memories of past exploits. I think the old maps were initially folded by an evil wizard so that you could never get the map folded back the way it was when you first got it. (Kidding here, I had about a 50:50 success rate.)
But we have another reason to unplug. My wife said it. God’s GPS gets us where we are going without any wrong turns. We can trust Him. We can let God lead us to a new world where we can enjoy Him forever.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.