A few weeks ago my wife Jody and I took a trip to Fenwick Island, DE. We borrowed my brother-in-law’s GPS for the ride. Believe it or not, this was the first time that I used a GPS for car trip navigation. (And no, I don’t have a smart phone, a Kindle, or an iPad either, sad to say.) It was a little weird at first to have our location pinpointed at all times and see it graphically displayed on the screen, but I must confess, I loved it. The unit’s soothing female voice was so helpful and accommodating, “Approaching…left turn…in…200 yards…turn left now…” The interesting part was when I decided at one point to ignore the voice and choose an alternate route. Within a moment the unit recalculated our new position (GPS rebels that we were) and gave us a new path to the same destination. Amazing! (I know, you may have been amazed by this sort of thing a decade ago when you first used a GPS, but indulge my wonder…) No matter how many times I might make a wrong turn, deviating from the clear plan, the GPS would recalculate an alternate route, giving new directions to ensure that we would arrive at our final destination.
That got me thinking. The process of our sanctification works a bit like GPS, doesn’t it? Despite the “wrong turns” we may make along the way, we still reach our final destination. Scripture speaks richly about this glorious truth:
- “…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6)
- We will all “reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4:13)
- “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” (Rom. 8:29-30)
Isn’t it amazing that God speaks these truths to redeemed sinners, who he knows will continue to falter repeatedly this side of glory? Intentionally and unintentionally, we make wrong turn after wrong turn. But arriving at glory, fully participating in the new heavens and earth, is not contingent upon my perfect obedience to his voice; it’s contingent on Jesus’ perfect obedience, the One who has driven the route before me without any wrong turns and who has arrived at the destination ahead of me. My union with Jesus through faith ensures that I, along with all his people, will reach home.
The GPS analogy falls short, of course. Theoretically (although foolishly), I could consistently choose a wrong route, in the opposite direction, despite the unit’s admonitions. Or I could defiantly drive into the Atlantic Ocean, ensuring that I would never reach my destination. The GPS has no power in and of itself to bring me to my final destination. It can only advise the route I should take and scramble to respond to my wrong choices by recalculating a new route. But God says to his children, “I have predestined you for glory. There are no ultimate detours from that destiny.” And the psalmist affirms, “all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be (Ps. 139:16).
However, this does not take away responsibility for listening to His voice. There are no “autopilot” settings for growing into the likeness of Christ. This highlights the mysterious juxtaposition of human choice/responsibility and God’s sovereignty! We can be confident that although our foolish choices to live outside God’s design may lead to some circuitous traveling, He will bring his children to their home with Him. Ultimately we cannot thwart his perfect travel plan. We will arrive safely at our destination. That’s good news for travel-weary sinners. So keep driving!