For Christmas my adult kids went together and gave me a Garmin navigator for my car. I enter in the address where I want to go, it takes a reading from satellites, and it gives me directions both from a map displayed on an LCD screen and verbally. Since I travel the state of Indiana visiting our 1200 churches, it really is a great device. Maps don’t always show the best way, and even MapQuest has limitations. I also find that local churches often send me directions that make sense to them but which are hard for me to follow (like the church which said, “Turn right where the old high school used to be” or the pastor who wrote, “Turn at the last stoplight”). So now with my new navigator I can find my way to anywhere for which I have an address.

I do find it interesting that the verbal instructions are from a female voice. I ran into someone at a wedding reception last week who told me he has the same navigator, and he has named the female voice “Shirley.” When I asked why, he said, “Because with this navigation device, surely I won’t get lost any more.” Cute. I’m not sure my navigator’s voice is really Shirley, but that computer-generated voice does seem almost human. In fact when I take a wrong turn, or go a way different from the instructions, the voice sounds almost disgusted as it says, “Recalculating,” and then gives me updated directions.

Wouldn’t it be nice if our Christian journey was as simple as having a display map and verbal directions? Wouldn’t it be nice if the Biblical principles were that simple, direct, and obvious? Wouldn’t it be great if asking the question, “What would Jesus do?” always provided an easy answer?

To some extent that is exactly what we are offered as Christians. We are offered the Biblical principles as a kind of roadmap through life. We are offered the guidance of the Spirit to help us navigate the specific turns and twists. And we are offered the Christian community to help us hear clearly those directions. It isn’t always easy, and sometimes life does require some recalculation. But it helps to be in communication with the One who has the larger view of life.

Isaiah 30:21 promises the people of God:

And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’

May God continue to guide us through life, and may we listen for that voice.

from Bishop Michael J. Coyner