The Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

I’ve been doing a lot of driving recently. I’m used to the roads by and large, only grimace and growl quietly when I get stuck in traffic (not all that often but more than I’d like), and appreciate the time to listen to podcasts, pray, and ponder. My knowledge of geography has improved but I’m still reliant on the sat-nav a lot of the time. When getting from A to B, what throws me the most are road works. The sat-nav can’t really help and I usually don’t have the local knowledge to make good decisions.

And that came home to me this week when getting home became a quite a hassle. Road works, detours, more road works (couldn’t believe it!), more detours, decision making – when do I trust the sat-nav isn’t just taking me back to the road works and when do I ignore it and forge my own way? I recognised some of the road numbers on the signs and knew they would eventually get me close to Cambridge so no matter what the sat-nav said, I ignored it, and onwards I went; my way. (No, I’m not going to sing a la Sinatra!) I didn’t think much of it, driving on, wanting to get home, when I realised that the mileage on the sat-nav hadn’t moved. I was still the same distance away from home. I was on the move but not getting any closer. Ridiculous! I’m wasting time and energy. The sat-nav kept offering alternatives but now I got stubborn. I was right. I had to be. It didn’t make sense to go back into ‘road works detour’ territory. I’ll eventually get to the road I want … turn left … and I’m on my way home.

So on I went. I was being decisive. Not wishy washy. Stick to the plan. The mileage still didn’t change. So I’m actually traveling on the edge of a big imaginary circle and still not closer to home. Where is the road I expected to see miles ago?! What’s that town doing here? (Where am I?!) It’s not a fun night. I stop to get petrol. Do I ask for directions? (I often do – I’m not macho about that! – but frankly I don’t even think about it.) Finally I get to a road I sort of recognise – not the one I was expecting – and I turn left and the sat-nav mileage slowly starts decrease. Good. Finally I’m back on the original highway only to realize that I’ve made an-other wrong decision. I’ve sort of doubled back and I probably should have stuck to my plan! I can’t believe it! I’m pretty sure I didn’t make one right decision that trip!

That can happen. Overall it’s pretty inconsequential. My actions only affected me (and I didn’t put the detour on my mileage record). I’m not making decisions about a business, a military campaign, when to sow crops, buy or sell shares, and the like. There’s a time to stay the course and a time to adjust one’s decision based on new information. Which is better? Which is preferred? Which makes us look better? Quite frankly, I don’t know.

What I do know is that my life is made up of my decisions and choices and they are my responsibility. Even if God had spoken to me through the sat-nav or just sat on the bonnet of the car as I was driving and called to me through the windscreen, I’d still have to make a decision about whether to listen and follow whatever he said. God is a hidden God to us – to our senses and feelings – all we have is his Word and I’m not sure that there was a specific verse for my situation! Or rather there might be many verses and how was I to choose which one to follow? Our living in this world is very much our business and we like the credit when things go well and to blame others when they don’t (including God).

Living in faith is not about being a puppet but about making decisions and taking responsibilities for them in a relationship. God didn’t lead me astray but he accompanied me on my jour-ney and his grace and care for me don’t change. He’s made the commitment to me in Jesus. The way I live my life means I remain accountable for it and when I remember God and his Word, I then have a starting point in responding to him (and others) – repentance or giving thanks (and often it’s both!).  — GS