A man named Bob Salem recently pushed a peanut all the way to the summit of Pikes Peak with his nose. He did this in seven days, breaking the previous record of eight days. To avoid the heat and distractions from others on the trail, he did most of his pushing in the dark.
Salem estimates that he used nearly two dozen peanuts throughout the week since some fell into cracks between rocks and he could not retrieve them. He did the entire trip by himself: he hiked a distance up the trail, left his backpack and supplies, retraced his steps, and repeated the trip pushing a peanut along the ground. He did this for the entire 13.5-mile hike, gaining 7,400 feet in elevation along the way.
Salem designed a covering that protected his nose and enabled him to complete his journey without facial injury. He ate peanuts (of course), Pop-Tarts, bananas, and crackers for fuel. He is actually the fourth person to summit “America’s Mountain” in this way.
With all due respect, I’m wondering if this is the best way to spend a week.
Why I am so grateful for GPS
God has a “good and acceptable and perfect” will for each of our lives (Romans 12:2). We can know this will if we wish to know it: “Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17).
However, since none of us is sinless (Romans 3:23), none of us fulfills God’s will perfectly. What happens when we get off track? Consider an analogy.
Every car I own to the end of time will possess some version of GPS technology. This is because, as my wife says, I am “directionally challenged.” Janet advises me, when I come to an intersection, to decide which way I ought to go and then go the other way. I can successfully navigate to a destination nine times, but this does not guarantee I won’t get lost on the tenth trip.
I used to live by fold-up maps and a massive spiral-bound book called a “Mapsco.” These are very helpful in showing you the way to your destination. However, since they are ink on paper, they have no way to know where you are at present and no way to recalibrate your journey as needed.
This feature is what makes onboard GPS in cars and phones so helpful. If I take a wrong turn, the GPS doesn’t abandon me or ridicule me. It simply recalibrates my journey from where I am to where I need to go. I can take ten wrong turns, but it will determine a new “best route” in response every time.
There are consequences for wrong turns, of course. They can make my journey longer than it needed to be, costing time and gas. They can take me places I don’t want to go as well. But wrong turns in the past need not prevent me from right turns in the future.
I am grateful to report that God’s will is much more like a GPS device than a printed map. Our Lord always knows where we are and always wants the best for us. His Spirit is ready to guide us every step of every day, if we are willing to be led.
Here’s a second similarity: no two journeys are exactly the same. The directions that take me from my home to my office do not take me to the airport. I must listen during each journey for each turn as it comes.
A new strategy for a new battle
These thoughts were prompted recently by the battle of Ai in Joshua 8. Two chapters earlier, the Lord led the Israelite army to march around the city of Jericho once a day for six days, then seven times on the seventh day. On that day, the Lord caused the walls of the city to collapse so the Jewish army could capture it.
In Joshua 7, however, the army was defeated by the soldiers of Ai. This was due to sin in their ranks; when it was discovered and punished, God could again bless and use his people.
Now the Lord led them in a strategy unlike any they had followed before.
He directed Joshua to divide his forces in two. One pretended to attack Ai as they had previously but then withdrew, convincing the soldiers of Ai that they were retreating as they had before. This drew out the armies of Ai into the battlefield in pursuit.
When they left the city, the second part of the Jewish army attacked it. Joshua and his part of the army then turned on the men of Ai, joining forces with the second part of the Jewish army as they converged on their enemy.
As a result, “Israel struck them down, until there was left none that survived or escaped” (Joshua 8:22).
A wise mentor’s advice
Here’s my point: following the will of God is a present-tense lifestyle. His plan for yesterday’s battles may not look like his plan for today’s challenges.
Like a GPS unit, our Father will find us where we are and lead us to his best next destination for us. But GPS technology can lead only those who will follow its directions.
God always gives his best to those who leave the choice with him. This is why a mentor’s advice to me was so wise: “Always stay faithful to the last word you heard from God and open to the next.”
What is the last word you heard from God?