Wednesday, July 27, 2022

God: Our Navigator

Dear Friends,

I was in my first major car crash when I was only seven or eight. I saw the terror on the other driver’s face right before the impact and I know he could see the terror on mine. We were both frantically trying to steer our way clear. Forcefully yanking our steering wheels from one side to another had no effect. Our cars had quickly accelerated out of our control and we smashed head on into each other. The high-pitched whine of the electric motors was silenced upon impact, and now other cars smashed into our stalled cars. We had caused a multi-vehicle pile up and the operator had to turn off the power and run over to untangle us.

I grew up in Culver City and my favorite place in the whole world was Beverly Park on La Cienega Blvd. Also called “Kiddieland,” this theme park was close to our home, inexpensive and was a defining part of my childhood. I loved going there with my family. My favorites were the boats, the Ferris wheel and the pony rides but the “Dodgem” cars were the highlight. They were loud, fast and totally out of control. Loud, fiery sparks flew off the steel brush at the end of the car’s pole as it moved along the electrified ceiling and powered the car. Most of the steering wheels were useless and even Dodgem admitted, “until you have learned how, you go somewhere, but you don't go where you intend going.” The steering wheels were just something to hang onto when you crashed into each other. The operator kept turning the ride on and off so that one moment you were sitting peacefully in the middle of the small building then, in an instant, sparks would fly and you’d be once again hurtling out of control into another exciting smash-up. Kinda like life.

Things are going well. Life is good. There is peace and harmony. Maybe even good health and prosperity. Then the unseen hand of fate flips the switch, sparks fly and your life is headed out of control to another spectacular smash-up. And once again we tried our best to avoid it. But frantically jerking life’s steering wheel back and forth has no effect and like a Dodgem car, “until you have learned how, you go somewhere, but you don't go where you intend going.” And the problem is that we are not on Earth long enough to have learned everything we need to know about life. That’s why we so often find ourselves in circumstances where we never intended to go. 

A few years ago, on the first Sunday of the year, I asked everyone a question, “In this coming year, where is it in your life that you most need God?” A long-time member, John Fredricks, answered and told us that he needed God to be his “Navigator.” As a pilot and flight instructor, John knew that in military aviation, a flight navigator’s primary job is to determine the best way to get you to where you want to go, maintain the course by keeping you headed in the right direction and safely get you to where you need to be. Today all non-military planes are flown by a combination pilot/navigator alone, but our journey through life is a lot more complicated than flying a plane. That’s why we need a Navigator.

When we think about our past circumstances, situations and relationships, the first thing we may need to do is to admit that our own attempts at navigating through life have led to some pretty spectacular smash-ups. That’s why God says to us, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5 NLT Like King David we must submit to God and pray, “Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness.” Psalm 143:10 

Imagine the foolishness of a military pilot on a critical mission turning off the headset communication system with the flight navigator and just cluelessly flying in a random direction on his own. And yet that’s how the majority of Christian believers go through their days by failing to ask the Navigator to show them His way. We can do it our way, or we can believe in Him, submit to Him, pray to Him, ask His direction and wait in patient anticipation for His answer. Then once we have that sense of His direction for us, He will show us when and where to step out in faith.

When we are no longer relying on our own understanding and we fully trust in God’s direction for our life, then His promise to us is that He will be our Navigator, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” Psalm 32:8 NLT God has sent the Holy Spirit to “guide you into all truth” and give you “the direction for your future.” John 16:13

And best of all, when God is our Navigator, even when we encounter the normal turbulence in life, we know we will not crash and burn because His hand of protection is on us and, no matter what happens, all is well with our soul. “The Lord will deliver us from every evil work and preserve us for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!” 2 Timothy 4:18

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