"Don't be afraid of technology...technology is your friend mom," said Justin, as he handed the gadget back to me from the rear seat of the rented Caravan. "I already programmed in the address. Just put on the screen lock so you can't mess it up again...it's at the top of the Garmin," the teen advised calmly.
With fingers carefully gripping the sides of gizmo, I pushed until it snapped securely into the cradle mounted on the windshield. Throwing the car into reverse, Ray backed up the van and we were on our way -- certain that this would be the most carefree family vacation ever with our new Global Positioning System (GPS) to guide our way through the unfamiliar roads of the greater Phoenix area.
"In point two miles, turn right," said the pleasant female voice in the Garmin box, as a handy map appeared with color-coded streets and cross roads for our added convenience.
"The purple path shows the road we need to stay on," explained Justin. "Just follow it and we'll be home-free!"
With precise step-by-step instructions, the gadget we affectionately named Ms. GPS guided us onto the highway.
"In point three miles, exit left," announced Ms. GPS.
"Uh...the exit is closed" said Ray as we whizzed by the off ramp.
"Recalculating," said the unshakable-one. "Drive two miles. Stay left."
"She can recalculate? Cool!" gushed Ray.
It seemed Ms. GPS had all the answers supplied with detailed information from an unseen source high in the sky. She represented a technology based on facts and truth. There was no guessing involved. She guided our every move, warning of forks in the road, guiding us back on track when we wandered off or when we encountered a road block.
What we came to love most about Ms. GPS was her temperament. She never got angry if we missed a turn. No tone. No reprimand. No sarcasm. It was our choice whether to follow her instructions or not. We came to realize that it was always in our best interest to do so.
On our final day in Phoenix, our family set off to Computer City to purchase a laptop advertised in the morning newspaper. After programming the store address into the Garmin, we headed off, only to find that the item we desired was temporarily out of stock. We were promptly redirected to another store location. While the salesperson didn't have an address for the other store, he was happy to provide us with instructions on how to get there.
"It's about, ummm, 10 to 15 miles south on Manor Boulevard, pass the freeway, on the right hand side," said the clerk. "You can't miss it."
We jumped into the Caravan and looked longingly at Ms. GPS. However, without an address for our destination, there would be no pleasant voice and no purple path to guide us on the unplanned trek.
"Well, the salesman said it's just down the road," I said bravely. "Let's just go."
"Wait...did he say to head south?" Ray asked, already second guessing our course.
"Yes, south," Justin advised confidently from the back seat.
After driving for eternity, the frustration started to set in.
Maybe the clerk said to drive north? Should we turn around? Should we stop and ask someone? The questions swirled and tempers flared. Ms. GPS remained dark and silent upon her mount as useless as a lighthouse without a light.
"There up ahead -- is that it?" Justin asked. "On the right, just beyond the freeway overpass...in point two miles," he said wryly. We laughed out loud for a few moments, a bit embarrassed by our temporary hysteria.
Silently, I wondered why a trip down the road had felt so difficult. I marveled at how insecure we felt without Ms. GPS guiding our way, as we had come to rely on her so completely.
Then it hit me. Isn't that just like life as a Christian? We had come to trust Ms. GPS much in the same way that a Christian trusts God. Sure, we can still make our way around without Him, but God always offers the best route to reach our destination. He's always there to recalculate when we make a mistake or encounter a closed off ramp. He offers us another chance to get back on track. No tone. No reprimand. No sarcasm. It's always our choice to follow Him or not. Of course, we've come to know, it's always in our best interest to do so.
Sherrie is a believer in Jesus Christ, a freelance writer, a wife and a mother. She resides with her family on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, where she was born and raised. Mary Supebedia is her beloved grandmother.