I have a friend who refuses to use the Global Positioning System (GPS) he was given as a gift. “I don’t need another voice telling me what direction I should be taking,” he muses. It is a stance I can identify with. We live in a world where there is no shortage of voices informing us which path is the right one – as well as an ever-growing chorus suggesting that any way we choose is the right one.
The navigational advice begins in our earliest years where our main input derives from our parents or main caregivers. It doesn’t take long for the spectrum of influence to broaden as we are exposed to a wider social circle of family, friends and associates. When we throw in mediums such as television, books and music and, for a growing number, day-care, our developing minds are exposed to a widening array of options. And all this before we even reach the schoolyard, where the diversity of suggested routes rapidly multiplies on our journey to independence.
And at each step of the way we are exposed to conflicting voices, campaigning our minds as to what is right and wrong, moral and immoral, good and evil. The single path on which we began our journey has become a maze of tangled turns, forks and intersections – each offering us an alternative way.
This has become particularly relevant over recent decades as technology exposes and maps out a broadening network of choices to attract our attention. So which is the right path?
Is there a right path?
It is becoming more difficult as Christians to navigate our way through the myriad of options. We know we are called to follow the example of Jesus, but how does that play out in our individual lives? Jesus faced “forks” on His earthly journey and had to make decisions on which path to follow. “Let not my will, but Your will be done,” He cried out to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane.
So how was Jesus able to distinguish the voice of His Father from others that were seducing Him away from the cross? It was because God had equipped Him with a direct line – an internal GPS that He could tap into whenever He chose to. The good news is that we, too, have access to the same guidance system.
After all, it would be negligent if God expected us to follow the example of His Divine Son without equipping us with the same ‘added extra’. It is why Jesus chose to fully embrace His humanity – so that we would know it was possible to recognise God’s call in our own lives. God is love and mercy and because He considers all of us to be His sons and daughters, we can be assured that He has supplied each of us with the same GPS He made available to Christ.
When Jesus ascended to heaven he promised not to leave us alone – the Holy Spirit would come to guide us to continue his work on earth. “I shall ask the Father and He will give you another Paraclete, to be with you forever.”(John 14:16). Derived from the Greek word, parakletos, this gift can be interpreted as “advocate”, “counsellor”, “protector”, “intercessor” or “support” – in other words, the guiding Spirit of God, who will “teach you everything”.
The Holy Spirit is God’s Positioning System. He enables us to hear the voice of our Heavenly Father. He is the spiritual navigational device that has been given, not only to guide the Church as a Body, but also to each of us as individuals.
The problem, however, is that we live in a society that is continually dragging us along at a faster pace and we do not allow ourselves enough time and space to distinguish God’s voice from all the others calling for our attention.
There are numerous occasions when Jesus had to remove Himself from the crowds and clutter of His daily activity so He could align His will with that of His Father’s, so why would we be any different?
As with any relationship it is only by consciously making a decision to listen that we will come to recognise God’s voice and be able to seek a deeper intimacy.
It is only when we spend time in silent contemplation and let go of our own agendas, desires and distractions that we will hear His gentle guiding whisper resonating within us.
It may take time, patience and discipline to fine tune our GPS, but we should take comfort in knowing that, not only does it come with an earthly promise of life to the full, but more importantly, with the Creator’s eternal life guarantee.