A few years ago, my family gave me a Garmin GPS for my car. I wish I could say that my GPS was without flaw. Once in Nashville TN, instead of taking me to the Botanical Garden, it took me far into the countryside miles away from my destination. I think my Garmin was downright dizzy, when it told me to turn left into a lake in Canada, all the while rebelling when I refused. Still, I’ve been grateful for it on many occasions. Thousands of miles have been guided by its expertise. In spite of its occasional misses, I’ve come to rely on that GPS more and more when I travel.
What I have discovered is that whenever I get lost, whenever I don’t know how to get out of a situation – all I have to do is hit that button which says “Home” and I will be all right. My GPS knows the way home. It may take me in a roundabout manner. It may send me on the long way instead of the short one. There may be roads to travel that I would not have chosen. But it will always, but always find the way home.
I have learned in life that hitting the “Home” button, turning to God, works when I am out of sync with myself. God knows the course change I need to make and is aware of what in my heart and mind needs to change direction. God knows way before me what attitude needs some serious adjusting. God sends out an alarm, before I even figure out that I’ve gotten lost. When I turn back from where my heart and mind have wandered to, I get out of my rut. I discover new truths. I recognize my prejudices and can name them for what they are.
Poll takers often tell us how many people feel that the country is going in the wrong direction. I always wish that they would sort out why people feel the country is going the wrong way, but I suspect it has something to do with our national discourse. In this bizarre political season, when a pandemic and wearing masks turned into political football, politicians have played to our fears. Political gain has nurtured our skepticism, and our prejudices. We may not agree on just what is wrong, but we can often agree that something is.
The prophet Micah, in ancient Israel, was no stranger to a political system in trouble. In the midst of economic uncertainty, raiding bands of neighboring nations, political upheaval and a people who had lost their way, he spoke God truth. To a nation searching for direction, he reminded the people of Israel that God had already shown them the way to God’s favor. It was not to sacrifice their children for the good of the country, or to offer vast amounts of wealth. Instead God was waiting for a return to the deeper truths. “God,” he said, “has already shown you the way back” and “What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8 NIVUK
God draws us away from bitterness of spirit to compassion and faithful living. God still calls us back to these central truths away from our fears, to be people of justice, to live with compassionate hearts . . . to be people who show mercy . . . who recognize God’s great love for all of God’s people . . . to be people who truly walk humbly with God.
*A version of this post was first published on April 12, 2016.