Onboard Navigation

Sometimes it’s disturbing to see how dependent young people are upon their GPS guidance devices. Kids don’t seem to learn how to read maps anymore. They don’t learn to find their bearings or get around their surroundings without their phones chirping out their turn by turn directions.

Of course… I confess that I am pretty dependent upon such things in unfamiliar places, but I try to have a pretty good idea where I am headed before I start. I want to know at least the big picture of my route before I turn over the guidance to the GPS.

But the fact remains that in real life each moment that we face is new, often unfamiliar territory. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had some sort of onboard navigation system to guide us through the hours and days ahead of us and show us how to live?

In John 14, we find the beginning of three chapters of teaching from Jesus that John relays to us. Jesus begins by underscoring His ultimate intention—that we might be with Him—and how we may truly experience that togetherness with Him by simply following Him and believing Him and finding our entire life in Him. (14.1-11)

But then Jesus begins to unfold one of the most powerful revelations of His teaching ministry.

[Take a moment and read John 14.12-27.]

Jesus whets our appetites with the indication that, by trusting in and pursuing Him, we “will do the works that I do’ and greater works than these.”(12) He even indicates that asking the Father’s help in Jesus name would bring sure response that would work to our good and His own glory.(13-14)

He begins to describe the live centered upon Him, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”(15)

But notice this powerful provision Jesus promises:

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.(16-17)

Jesus assures His followers that the Father will send the Holy Spirit to help them. This is in contrast to the world around us that does not know God. Notice that Jesus said, “You know him, for he dwells with you.” The Spirit was already dwelling with them in that Jesus, God in the flesh, was there and fully in communion with the Holy Spirit as testified back in John 1.32 that the Spirit descended upon Jesus and remained.

But Jesus said that the Spirit “will be in you.” He points to this idea of the Holy Spirit that would take up residence in the life of all who believe in Jesus. The Spirit somehow lives truly in every believer, though the Spirit had not been sent in that way just yet (which Jesus will explain later).

He goes on to express more of His design—that He was not going to leave them like orphaned children with no one to care for them or provide for them.(18) He would be gone for a little while, but return by the Spirit to live in and with us and that, as surely as He lives, they would truly live.(19)

Jesus describes the intimate relationship intended for us by promising His presence in our lives by the love of the Father and the indwelling Spirit.(20) That love will show in our lives through faithful obedience to all that He reveals of Himself.(21)

When Judas questioned how they would see it but the world around them would not, Jesus explains that our response to the Father’s love is to embrace the Son and to thrive in this beautiful, intimate love that flows from the very nature of God. He goes so far as to directly correlate our willingness to hold to Jesus or lack thereof as the litmus test of a genuine follower of God.(22-24)

Jesus gives more description of this promise:

These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.(25-26)

The Spirit will stir up what is in our minds and give us guidance in how to live out the truths we have received. He will remind us what we know when we need to remember it. He will show us how to walk in the Way. He will show us what is the Truth. He will empower us to live through His own Life.

And what is the result of this precious and powerful promise that Jesus expressed?

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.(27)

This assurance that the Spirit would come was intended by Jesus to be a source of peace to these men that followed Him.

I guess peace is the reason I turn on my GPS guidance when I am going to an unfamiliar place. I want to alleviate any anxiety about making a wrong turn without knowing it. Once I turn it on, I know that, even if I turn the wrong way or miss an exit, it will continue to reroute me until it successfully directs me to my desired destination.

The Holy Spirit is, in the life of a follower of Jesus, a lot like an onboard navigation system. He guides us through the turns and detours and challenges of life by helping us see where we are and directing our steps. The greatest skill for a mature follower of Jesus is to be… well, I guess it’s a lot like these kids that can’t find their way to the mall and back without their GPS. We are to just listen for His prompting and follow His guidance and turn when and where He tells us to turn.

Why is that so hard?

I think it’s hard because ultimately it means I’m not in control.

But then… there’s no pressure but to simply listen and follow.

Maybe that’s the point.

Moderately Radical

It’s funny to me how we tend to see everything in others almost entirely in relation to ourselves.

I was teasingly called a liberal on a particular occasion, but, given the circumstance in which it took place, I gladly owned that label. It was because I know that my perspectives would legitimately be seen as liberal in that context. However, anywhere else in the world, I would be seen only as the tiniest bit less conservative than those around me.

I have been spending some time meditating and reflecting upon Paul’s powerful testimony to the folks at Philippi as he stated so very powerfully that he counted everything else in his life as garbage in comparison to the one highest, greatest, over-arching purpose in his life – to know Jesus (Philippians 3).

That’s pretty radical to most of us.

As some friends and I are spending some focused time in prayer for direction in some important matters, I find myself torn with an argument I have had numerous times in my life. It is the matter of where our common sense plays into the process of seeking God. I have had a number of people (for whom I have utmost respect) tell me that God gave us common sense for a reason and so we seek God but listen to common sense. I get that.

Continue reading Moderately Radical

Recalculating…

I always find it humorous when the GPS navigation device or app says, “recalculating.”

Unless I’m driving…then I don’t like it much at all. It’s like this smug little person in a machine is saying, “Hold on a minute while I figure out how to get you out of this mess.”

But what happens when we get so far off course that our GPS doesn’t even know where we are? Or maybe we just don’t have a very good connection with the satellite. What do we do then?

Continue reading Recalculating…