Learning To Trust My GPS – And Jesus Too

I did something today I have never done before.  I trusted my GPS.  I turned it on, listened to its guidance, and followed its directions.  I didn’t double-check it before leaving on my trip.  I didn’t argue with it as I drove. google map app I didn’t constantly verify that it, and I, were on the correct path.   I didn’t worry about two or three turns ahead.  I just listened for the next one and took it as it came.

I trusted and followed… and got where I needed to go.  And it was so refreshing to be able to relax along the way and enjoy the journey I was on.

Oh, I’ve used my GPS countless times in the past and find it very helpful in getting from one place to another.  I am not a Luddite or helplessly old school.  But I’m afraid I am THAT person.  You know THAT person.  Me and my GPS have a much more complicated relationship than we should.  I talk to her. I frequently question that she knows what she is doing.  Because I am never really sure she’ll be able to get me to where I need to go safely and in a timely manner. Because I kind of like to make my own plans.  Because, while I’m not a control freak…let’s just say I often prefer to reduce the number of people and things I am dependent on.  Therefore, I tend to do my route planning ahead of time so that, even though I take her with me everywhere, I don’t actually need her.  Even though getting me from point A to point B is her job.  Even though trusting her would make my life so much easier.

Today, Jesus let me know this is how I treat Him sometimes.  Sigh.

Years ago I told Him that I would let Him lead…and that I would follow.  In fact, we’ve spent years together, with me learning to hear and listen to His voice.  With me learning to trust that He is more than capable of handling the details of my heart and life.  With me learning to believe that He really, really loves me and wants the best for me…that He knows exactly where we are going and how to get there…and that He is very willing and able to take care of me along the way.

Yet there are so many times I try to orchestrate my life, my spiritual life even, so that I don’t really need Him.  So that functionally, He isn’t leading, but just accompanying me as I do my best to manage it all on my own.

And I realized how very tired that has been making me.  Basically, I’ve been trying to do my job and His at the same time.  And trying to do His job is like…well…it’s like trying to be God when you are not.  Those shoes are too big for anyone to fill.  It is not only exhausting, it is a recipe for getting so very lost along the way.

Again…sigh.

While not a perfect metaphor, (of course there are times we should look ahead, be aware of our location, make plans, etc) this day, my traveling experience was a gift.  It showed me something of my heart and practices – and invited me to do things differently.  It showed me that if I am willing to trust Him, to listen, to not over think His words and Word, I can learn to relax along the way and enjoy the journey I’m on.

John 10:27 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” – Jesus

It’s What He Wants For Me, Not What He Wants From Me

Every once in a while I awaken to the realization that Jesus wants more for me.  Not more from me.  This difference is huge.

He wants more for me than me just being a good Bible student or teacher.  More for me than just attendance at my quiet times or church activities.  More for me than just hands raised high in an emotionally stirring worship event.  More for me than just sin-impulse control or conformity to a noble standard of behavior.

Not that there is anything wrong with the above activities.  In fact, those are wonderful things in and of themselves…and they open the door to the things I’m about to describe. It is just that…every once in a while, usually in a beautiful moment of experience and joy…usually in a moment of connectedness with my body, emotions or the people around me…I realize that He also wants me to be a human being.

Not just a task-performing robot – which unfortunately is the functional definition of a disciple that many of us have internalized.  He wants me to be a real person.  With a body and emotions and preferences.  Not a cardboard cutout who looks good on the front but is 1/2 inch thick.  Not someone who is afraid of the things He’s created…or of deeply enjoying those things He’s created.  He wants to meet me in my humanity in a way that is so deeply spiritual, soul-satisfying and transcendently beautiful, that the stuff of this earth becomes divine.

I think He loves it when I dial back my compulsive drive to achieve, conquer, accumulate and compare that I know isn’t healthy…that I so easily translate into my relationship with Him…and I just relax.  I think He loves it when I am just a human being.  A wife.  A mom.  A lover of buffalo chicken, orange, the sound of leaves rustling and a good back scratching.   I think He cheers me on when I enjoy a really good cup of coffee across the table from a friend and we talk, with no agenda other than connecting.   I suspect He smiles when I put my Bible down and snuggle on the couch with one of my babies,  after eating a lot of popcorn, and laughing at Phineas and Ferb.  I think He’s a fan of my man and I holding hands, of our family eating slow, and us going to the pool on a warm summer day to play.   I bet, as much as I enjoy a walk through a beautiful place in nature or a European city, He enjoys watching me enjoying it more.  Because in these simple and very human things, in my senses, relationships and experiences…I discover these beautiful previously unknown facets of Him and His character, that are not available to me through just Bible study, just organized worship and just a nose-t0-the-grindstone discipline.

It makes me sad to realize I have spent much of my life hiding from Him behind His stuff and blessings and disciplines…thinking that denying how I was made was pleasing to Him.

My humanity is not something I must run from in order to obey Him, but something I can run into in order to find Him.

God wants me to love life here on earth.  Because He wants Himself for me. Nothing less.

The Dilemma of Saddling A Horse


While I am not a regular horse rider, I have on occasion over the years found myself on a horse’s back. And I’ve learned something that I think even horses know.

A horse reaches its true potential only when it is saddled properly – when it is capable of carrying someone – who knows, loves and wants to go places with him/her.

Getting a horse to wear his saddle properly can be a bit of a challenge, however. I know this because one time I rode a horse whose saddle was too loose. Let’s just say, it didn’t end well for me. I began tilting to the side till I was almost parallel to the ground and then…well, at least the ground stopped the tilting.

I’ve seen a number of folks attempt to saddle a horse and evidently this is a common problem. Most horses don’t want a saddle to fit as tightly as it needs to in order to support the rider. And who can blame them? It squeezes. Evidently, the smart ones  (which, I’ve found, is most of them…) will hold their breath to spread their gut. Then, as they walk away and can relax, the saddle fits looser.

How to solve this dilemma? I’ve seen two strategies. A saddler can repeatedly ram his knee into the horse’s side, forcing them to exhale, while they tighten the straps. The first time I saw this done, it looked exactly like it sounds – harsh. The horse and the person did not appear to have a very personal relationship. It was definitely a working one.

There is another way though.

The saddler can tighten up the saddle as much as it will go…and then stay close and wait. When they hear and see the horse exhale, they pull the straps a bit. Then they repeat this until the saddle fits properly. This method takes a bit more time. It requires the person to be attentive, patient…compassionate. In touch with the horse’s natural rhythms. To be willing to wait till the time is right and not force the issue. And the horse must learn to trust the saddler, that he has her best interests at heart.

Of course I’m painting a picture here of something of how God works in our lives. We, like horses, are created beings with great potential. And that potential must be harnessed. Saddled. For us to go places, we need a rider. And the rider needs a place to sit, a place to be close and in sync with us.

Discipleship is the process where we learn to wear our saddle properly. The spiritual disciplines are ways in which we give God a place to ‘sit’ in our lives. To lead us, to speak to us, to be present with us, to empower us to go places and do things we couldn’t or wouldn’t on our own. When done well, it enables us to become who we were created to be. It brings joy and relationship.

And yet, our first response to the process is usually resistance. We spread our gut and stubbornly refuse to cooperate. We don’t naturally like the squeezing that is required.

Which presents two options to God and the spiritual leaders in our lives, whose responsibility it is to help us learn to wear our saddle. A swift kick in the gut…or a relationship based on proximity, trust, affection and common purpose. In my experience, God almost always uses the gentle method. He even assures us that His yoke is easy and that He is gentle.

I’ve worked in discipleship ministries for a number of years and I’ve seen His people use both strategies. I’ve been the recipient of both. In my experience, banging on people may work for a little while, but it only breeds more resistance. Distrust. And this usually prefaces some sliding and an eventual crash of some sort.

And I’ve had a number of older women come alongside me for a season and love me. Encouraged me to trust them. Our relationship wasn’t always easy, but it always had an element of affection to it. I knew they had my best interest at heart and I was willing to go along with them because of that. They have been some of the most profound influences in my life – they are the reason God sits in my life like He does today.

Discipleship works best from a place of relationship, proximity, trust, affection, gentleness. For both the disciples and the disciple. 

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matt. 11:29