Thursday, January 14, 2016

God is not a GPS

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Some believe that God is like a GPS. He has a direction He wants you to travel (His “plan”), and He leads you in that direction each step of the way. Maybe you’ll take miss a turn or get off on the wrong exit here or there, but like a GPS, God’s always there to “reroute” you back on the right road.

This analogy, however, is severely lacking, if not in direct opposition with reality. If God were like a GPS, that would imply that we men and women are in the driver’s seat. We would be in control, deciding when and where we want to go. God would merely be an advisor, knowing the right route but having no control over what path we actually take. This view undermines God’s sovereignty.

The Bible is clear: God is sovereign.

Psalm 115:3 tells us that “our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” In Daniel 4:35 we read, “He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’” (NIV) He says in Proverbs 16:9 that “the heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Ephesians 1:11 declares we have been “predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.”

Beyond these verses, the Bible is replete with references to God’s sovereignty; it can be seen throughout practically every book in scripture. But how does God’s sovereignty change the GPS view of the Lord?

God has only one plan, and every detail of it will come to pass.

God doesn’t have “backup plans” in case we mess up or make a wrong turn. He doesn’t “recompute” our route and get us back to where He wanted. To play on the analogy, God is in the driver’s seat. He leads, not missing a single turn. God, in His omniscience, has one plan and one plan only; that plan will come to pass, no questions asked.

This can lead us to a seemingly scary (but not actually scary) conclusion:

Every single thing that happens in our lives is a part of God’s plan.

Every single thing. Yes, even the (seemingly) bad things. Joseph was sold as a slave, but God was not a mere bystander; it was His powerful plan so that He could save many people (Genesis 50:20). Jonah was swallowed by a whale, but God was protecting and correcting him (Jonah 1:17). Then, in an act of divine love and justice, the Father poured out His wrath on His very own Son (Isaiah 53:10-12, Romans 8:32).

Now to be clear, we still choose to sin. In fact, we make many choices day by day, and we are still responsible and still have fault for those choices and sins. And we still have the responsibility to do what God has commanded. Human will and God’s sovereignty are both affirmed by scripture. We, like David, may not fully understand every aspect of God’s sovereignty (Psalm 139:1-6), but it is a reality nonetheless.

Unfortunately, many Christians fall into the GPS understanding of God.

Many Christians worry that they’ve missed God’s plan, as if they didn’t try hard enough or did something wrong. They may see hardships, temptations, or sins, and fall prey to the idea that those things were out of God’s control. They may worry about the future or “what could have been,” not realizing that they are exactly where the Lord has planned for them to be, and it is for a very good reason. And that’s the point:

Whatever situation we’re in, we’re in it for a very good reason.

As Christians, when we understand that God has one amazing, perfectly unchangeable plan, we can finally have peace! Our God is good! And that being the case, we never have any reason to worry. Every situation, every struggle, every tragedy, every blessing, and even every sin God has appointed for something good.

Because of God’s sovereignty, we can rest secure in our faith, knowing that He Who saved us will never let us out of His hand (John 10:27-29). And for those of us in the Body of Christ, “we know that … all things work together for good.” (Romans 8:28).

How can we worry when the Lord has promised to work everything for our good? How can we be discontent when the Lord has us exactly where He wants us to be? Personally, I have never had as much peace and joy as I’ve had since I recently began to understand the reality of God’s sovereignty.

I pray that you will have this assurance, peace, and joy as well as you rest in God’s incredible plan. Trust in the Lord!

“Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, ‘The Lord reigns!’” (1 Chronicles 16:31)