God’s Garmin-A Presence Driven Life.

by | Jan 26, 2010

The Only Italian Driver we met who wasn't in a hurry!

 A few years ago I took my family to Italy for a holiday having long desired to field test the italian I had learnt at university. It was a fantastic family time, one that we still talk about and treasure the memories of to this day. The friends we made, the cuisine, the scenery, the coffee and yes, the pleasure of finding out that my father had not entirely wasted the money that he spent on my university education turned it into a holiday that made it to the Desmond Holiday hall of fame. There was however one aspect of the holiday that was less than pleasurable and which still gets my heart racing when I recall it. The Motorways! For the inexperienced an excursion on an Italian motorway is as exhilarating and as terrifying as ride on a non stop roller coaster with no seat belts or brakes. first there are all the obvious challenges; in Italy they drive on the wrong side of the road, (for those of you from the USA who are objecting at this point, you do too), and the signage is in italian, the tolls are all on an automated system that is totally different to ours in South Africa and finally italian drivers treat the speed limit as a very loose and non binding suggestion no matter how congested or narrow the motorway and if you have the temerity to slow their progress they have no qualms about expressing their outrage by sitting right behind you with their hand firmly planted on the horn until you either speed up or get out of their way. “Eh, whas da matta? Itz a motaway! So mota!” The combination of these factors led to highly increased levels of adrenalin and stress inside of our hired car so that when my wife and I had to make navigational decisions by combining information on our italian map and the road signs and our own opinions (normally as we sped bythe require exit), our communication tended to become loud, sharp and often not overly filled with milk and honey. I can remember climbing out of our car at the end of some of those day trips feeling emotionally shattered.  

What a difference it was when we went to France a few years later. France had many of the same challenges as Italy for us. There too people stubbornly insist on driving on the wrong side of the road, the signage is in french which admittedly I have a better grasp of than italian, and their tolls were also at times confusing too. French drivers can at time be as scary as their italian counterparts however what made all the difference was the etherial disembodied voice of that wonderful woman, Garmin! (our GPS) In dramatic contrast to our italian experience navigational information was communicated in the calmest of voices and if one of us missed a turning, Garmin would tactfully suggest alternative routes. We arrived at our destination in the french alps believers in the advantages of GPS and totally convinced of the saying that the journey is as important as the destination.  

In our fast paced modern world life can get as exciting as an italian motorway, and our navigational decisions are often as pressurized and can have far longer consequences than those my family took when we were in Italy. A few years ago I was attending a conference in Cape Town when God to spoke to me about a change he wants to bring in the way many navigate their way through life. He used an incident in the story of the Israelites’ journey from Egypt to the promised land as the basis of the lesson. Here it is if you don’t have access to a Bible at the moment on Bible gateway. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ex33&version=NIV  

As I read through this passage one morning I saw two roads leading through the desert, they both led to the land that God had promised to give to the Israelites, however they both represented a different set of values. One road departed from a place that places obedience as the highest value in christian life. God gave Moses a clear and direct command  “Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt, and go up to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.” God told Moses he was to go up to Canaan, that he was still going to inherit the land, that he would have victory over all his enemies but that God’s presence would no longer go with the nation on this journey. God even assured Moses that it would be safer for them all, as they were a stubbornly sinful lot and if God did go with them there was every chance he would destroy them. Moses did not obey the command and he pleased God! The other road however values something higher than obedience to God (not that obedience is unimportant) it valued loving God, being in relationship with him. Moses treasured God’s presence and so he couldn’t go on without God. Instead he returned to the “tent of meeting” and sought the manifested presence of God because he knew that he could not be in relationship with God if God was absent. He passed a defining test of his leadership and God was pleased. The story concludes with Moses going to higher levels of Glory and receiving fresh revelation of God’s nature.   

At some point I believe every church and every christian gets to make this choice, will we value God’s presence in our midst despite the risks? There are many who have become so focused on the destination, on the promises that God has given us, on a vision, or even the wonderful mission of reaching the world with the good news of God’s kingdom that they no longer notice that the presence of God is no longer among them. For them the purpose is enough and to get to the destination they no longer need to stop to listen for the voice of God in their midst they just apply the principles they have learned from a good solid church education. Many are happier that way because it cannot be denied that there are risks involved when we seek to be a people following the presence of God. Some have become unbalanced (a terrible christian crime) , the presence causes both chaos and controversy and at times even casualties, good people get hurt, offended and leave our churches. In short it is untidy, but then that is the nature of a relationship as opposed to a task. If you begin with obedience you may achieve the vision you have, but there is something you will never know, the glory! The road of relationship, of loving God, of treasuring and pursuing his presence among us also gets to the promised land but it goes via the Glory, revealed as the goodness of God, and finally God promises to proclaim his name inour presence in other words he will make himself known tous! The risk is overshadowed by the blessings.  These days there signs are all around of a fresh wave of revival sweeping the world. The presence of God is again invading the church calling the bride of Christ to the bridal chamber. Some are afraid of the risks, they point to the controversies, casualties, and the chaos of earlier moves of God. Things get messy they protest and they opt for a more controlled environment. They don’t need the presence of God. They feel they can get where they are going by following the signposts of Biblical principles and they embrace the prosperity that comes because God is faithful to his promises. However they seldom if ever encounter God’s presence, and never get to experience the thrill of the glory passing by, or taste of his manifested goodness.

This is why I have decided to live “A Presence Driven Life”. Maps, principles, documents and contrary opinions are no substitute for His voice saying “This is the way, walk in it” Aren’t you glad we have God’s Garmin, the Holy Spirit!

   

 

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