Recently I spent three days driving around St. Louis, Mo., as well as towns nearby, with Gladys Penelope Snodgrass. Who? You probably know her by her nickname – GPS. I took her with me everywhere, and every time she told me where to go – in a very polite, considerate manner. It seems she has a keen understanding of directionally challenged individuals like me.
I decided to give her a name because when you spend that much time together, it seems unkind to remain so impersonal as to refer to the other “person” only as GPS. She actually sounded the way I’d imagine a Gladys Penelope Snodgrass should sound.
Several months ago I wrote about another GPS experience I had, pointing out how we follow instructions the navigational device gives with simple, trusting faith. If the voice says turn right, we turn right. If she says proceed 15 miles, we proceed as we’re told – she should know, right? (I say “she” because the voice sounds feminine. These days, who knows?)
But as “Gladys” and I traveled together, another principle came to mind. She was a constant companion, always available when needed. There wasn’t any need for unnecessary chit-chat. Gladys was direct and to the point. “In three-tenths of a mile, turn left onto Willow Street.” “In 1.1 miles take exit 26 on the right, then bear right.” “You have reached your destination.”
If she said, “Proceed 28 miles,” she remained quiet until about 27 miles had passed, then announced what I should do next. Always there, but never making a nuisance of herself, or demanding my attention. Simply ready and available, whenever needed.
In a similar, yet far more profound way, that’s one way I see my relationship with God. He asks us to follow His direction with simple faith – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). At the same time, He’s with us continually, not imposing Himself on us, but ever-present.
Jesus promised His followers “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Earlier in the Bible the Lord also assured us, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
As I drove around St. Louis and the surrounding region, my good friend Gladys was there with me, ready to help when needed. Because I trusted the GPS – despite having no understanding of how it works – I rightly presumed it would guide me to my destination, and even if I missed a turn it would “recalculate” and get me back on course.
When Psalm 23 tells me “the Lord is my Shepherd,” I can have confidence that just as a flock of sheep maintain a simple, unwavering confidence in the constant presence and care of their shepherd, God promises to do the same for me. And for every member of His “flock.”
We don’t have to fully understand how He works, why sometimes answers our prayers in one way and sometimes in another, but He promises to get us to where we need to go. If we’re willing to let Him guide us.
So if you ever feel alone, even disconnected from God, just remember Gladys Penelope Snodgrass. She was always there when I needed her. To a far greater extent, God gives us the assurance that He will be, too.
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.