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Friday, July 20, 2007 

I’m Just Going Where She Tells Me


"Turn right in 1 mile then stay right. Drive one mile and exit. At first available chance please perform a u-turn." For crying out loud I wish this chick would shut up. Her non stop blabbering about where I am and where I should be is going to drive me absolutely insane! Back seat divers are bad enough but when they are in sitting up front with me in the 4Runner, it’s enough to push me to the worst case scenario of road rage. If Rita doesn’t shut up, perky Katie Couric will be reporting a very tragic event tonight on the evening news. Rita? Who the heck is Rita you ask?

Rita is a GPS unit, as in global positioning satellite direction finding gizmo. She is the electronic forward sitting version of a biological back seat driver, the bane of any driver. Longeyemoose was "gracious" enough to lend her to me for my trip this week to New England. This week I’m in Maryland receiving some factory training so might I service and repair certain laboratory instruments and fight soulless dominion of corporate orthodoxy; my former employers. (Later this week I’m paying a visit to my folks in upstate NY.) As this is my first visit to Maryland I accepted the "gift" of Rita so that I didn’t have to purchase any more maps as I already have too many.

Now I think that GPS units are really cool, no if, and, or buts about it. It’s fascinating how a couple of satellites and software can tell a driver not only where he is but where he should be as well. Technology is a wonderful thing.

But today I realized that there might just be a downside to listening to Rita tell me where I should be going, I’ve absolutely no idea where I am. Really. Because I’ve been listening to Rita and following her instructions blindly, I’ve no idea where I am, which way is the correct way back to the hotel, or even which direction is north. In other words, although I am where I’m supposed to be, I’m lost. If the power adapter and batteries die, I’m in serious, serious trouble.

I’ve never left home before without at least one map. Why I didn’t over prepare for this trip is mystery as I would usually have every map from Florida to Nova Scotia jut to go to Maryland. Again, if anything bad happens to Rita, I’m in trouble!

And I know this is hard to believe, but all I could think of on the way back to my hotel was how lost I would be without catechesis from my pastor back at home. Just as nobody in their right mind would start a trip to Maryland not knowing how to go where they should be going, why would we expect baptized Christians to hear a ten minute sermon, call it quits for the week, and just go on their merry way?

I guess this is just stuck in my head for two reasons; first, all these mission boards I sit on, they seem to run by folks who don’t want to "scare away" the unchurced with real doctrine, Word, and Sacrament. The phrase "we need to meet people where they are at" keeps getting blurted out. I’ve got no problem meeting people where they are at per se, but sooner or later you will need to give them some directions. This is done by the right preaching of the Word, administration of the Sacraments, and, uh, I don’t know, maybe recommending that folks should actually read the Bible.

The second reason this idea is stuck in my noggin is that I’ve heard more than once from people who should know better; "as long as we go to a church that’s what’s important." To which I would respond; ya know, I’m glad you’re going to church but that statement is just rubbish! That’s like telling me as long as I stick to the interstate I’ll get to where I’m going. What if I’m on the road to Skagway, AK and I need to go to Baltimore, MD? I’m on a road yes, but I’m on the wrong road and nobody has told me differently! Now why would anyone treat church in a manner that they wouldn’t treat a driver going to Baltimore?

When Christ commands the disciples in Matthew 28:19,20 "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you; and lo I am with you always, even to the end of the age." He doesn’t say just give ‘em the keys to the family car and let’s see if they can find Baltimore. He says make them disciples, baptize them, and teach them to obey everything that He has commanded. Did Christ say that faith was a part time job? No!

And the writer to the Hebrews in Hebrews 5:12 tells the congregation "for by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food." The writer of the epistle is saying that sure at one time they needed something lighter, but now they need to grow up and start eating real spiritual food instead milk just as a child will eventually need to be weaned from it’s mother. At some point in time, he tells them, ya gotta grow up and learn. It’s not enough just to phone it in. In other words, pick up and read the darned map. Learn where you are at, learn where you need to go.

And so I don’t get hit with "Frank, now you are starting to sound like a legalist"; if you read the map you will find out that the directions are already on the map. Christ wrote out the map, the legend, and the directions in His own blood and posted it for all to see on the cross! And we as poor sinful creatures still need to read the map, constantly and every day precisely because we are sinful.

I know that some might think I’m reaching to make a point here, but I would argue otherwise. Just go ahead and try to find your way to a destination without knowing where you are going and get back to me. If you can find out where you need to go and actually get there, I’ll eat a crow, (mmm, crow, mouth watering crow). Scripture tells us faith is given to us by the hearing of God’s Word. But we should not consider faith to be static because it just can’t be. Faith grows and it needs to be fed, and one of the ways that happens is by daily reading of Scripture. To even think otherwise is as dangerous as hopping in a car and thinking you will get to Baltimore without a map or road signs.

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I told you to bring maps too!! Nice correlation of daily living and living faith

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  • I'm Frank Gillespie
  • From The Haut South
  • Confessional Lutheran
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