A preacher I listened to several years ago used the following analogy, but there is a difference between hearing a message and living it out. Apparently I needed the reminder to approach life in a flexible state of mind and to approach a change of plans with a willing and expectant heart, rather than an aggravated one.
While I generally have a pretty good idea how to get where I'm going when I get in my car, sometimes I need direction at the latter end of the trip to navigate side streets and roads I am unfamiliar with. I am grateful for GPS systems of all types that help me get to where I need to go. When I make a decision that doesn't fit the route the system had selected, it just figures out a new way to get to the destination based on my current location. The dashboard models often show the word “recalculating” on the video screen while the computer inside figures out how to adjust to the direction I've chosen. The voice coming out of the speaker never varies in tone or volume; there is no hint of aggravation or frustration aimed in my direction. The system just accepts my driving decision and adapts itself accordingly. And God would be oh so happy if I would simply learn to do the same.
He and I have been on an interesting journey these last few months. We came out of the starting gate of the new year in fine form, and I was full of plans for the year ahead. Suddenly a slip on the ice, a broken elbow...recalculating. Several weeks in a brace, some physical therapy, and I'm hoping to head back to work. Oops...arm stuck in a 90-degree angle, more surgery necessary...recalculating. More weeks in a brace, more physical therapy, ready now? Not yet, needs more time...recalculating. Approved to go back to work, eagerly checking schedule, can't wait to start. Are you kidding me? I'm assigned a vacation week...recalculating.
Finally I get it. I'm not the one making decisions here. God sees the big picture of my life, while I'm caught up in the day-to-day details. He knows where He's taking me and the road I need to travel to get there. Often I don't understand where we're going or why we're headed this way. But my questions do nothing to change the direction we're traveling. How much more peaceful the trip would be if I would just acknowledge that He knows best, trust Him to do what's right for my life, and simply follow the directions He gives without question or complaint.
The Israelites lengthened their stay in the wilderness they were traveling through by complaining against God and rebelling against His authority. Some of them never got to their destination at all as a result. I learn from their example that it's my attitude that needs adjustment, and God will continue to alter the route we're traveling together as necessary until it arrives at the place He knows it should be.
“Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.”
(Proverbs 19:21 NIV)