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June 01, 2015
Life on Planet Kathy
Just Like the GPS
by Kathryn H. Kidd

When we were between church meetings on Sunday, Fluffy realized that he hadn’t seen one of the ladies in our congregation for a week or two. She is conspicuous because she parks in the handicapped spot next to us, and she hadn’t been there for quite some time. He wondered where she was.

In the process of wondering about her, he looked up the lady’s address and saw that she lived in a townhouse complex only a few blocks away from the church. Then his meeting started, so he put his tablet on his knee and looked up to watch what was happening.

Suddenly a disembodied computerized voice said, “Proceed 400 feet straight ahead. Then turn right.” The noise boomed out in the quiet chapel. Fluffy slammed the tablet shut and put it in his suit coat pocket, no doubt hoping that the men in his high priests group did not know that his tablet was the source of the sound. Doubtless his innocent look fooled no one.

The tablet was quiet for the rest of the lesson. It was only after he got me securely tucked into the car after church that the tablet helpfully chirped, “Proceed 400 feet straight ahead. Then turn right.”

I almost jumped through the roof. I had not realized there was anyone besides Fluffy and me in the car. It was a real shocker to learn otherwise.

As coincidence would have it, the voice instructed us to head in the direction we were going anyway. So we did as the voice instructed and proceeded 400 feet straight ahead. Then we turned right. Once we left the parking lot, the voice continued to instruct us. “Continue for a quarter of a mile. Then turn right.”

Once again, the voice’s instructions dovetailed our own route. We reached the street where the townhouse complex was located where the lady in our ward lived. Then we turned right.

Our helpful voice had new instructions for us. They were instructions that would have taken us to the doorstep of the woman in our ward, but they would not have taken us to our house. “Turn left at the next intersection,” the voice said.

We reached the next stop sign, and then continued to go straight.

This did not upset the GPS unit in the slightest. The disembodied voice said, “Go 600 feet straight, and then turn left.”

Actually, we had been planning to do that anyway, so that is what we did. As soon as we turned left, the disembodied voice said, “Proceed to the next stop sign and then turn left.” We proceeded to the next stop sign and immediately turned right.

The disembodied voice did not get angry. She (for she definitely was a “she”) did not exhibit any signs of stress in her voice whatsoever. There was no impatience. She was not rolling her eyes, if she had eyes to roll. She simply said, “Turn left at the next intersection.” This was a good thing. Turning left at the next intersection was exactly what we were planning to do.

If the disembodied voice showed any excitement that we obeyed her this time, she did not betray that excitement. She simply said, “Proceed straight for 100 feet, and then turn left.” We did obey the first half of the instructions, but that was where we parted ways. We turned right, and off we went toward home.

No matter how much farther we got from the home of the woman in our ward, the GPS unit was never deterred. “Turn left at the next intersection,” were always the instructions that were given. There was always the same degree of patience. There was never annoyance. There was never any sense of judgment.

If we had gone to San Francisco, the GPS system would have continued trying to get us back to that townhouse without ever losing her patience even once.

“Of course,” I hear you saying. “It’s a stupid GPS system! What do you think it is — your mother-in-law?”

Nevertheless, no matter how far afield we went, the GPS just quietly recalculated what it would take for us to get back “home.” That was all the GPS cared about — getting us back home.

Finally Fluffy said, “Isn’t this a little bit the way God is? He never judges us. He doesn’t sit up there rolling His eyes and getting annoyed. Whenever we make stupid mistakes and go astray, He just figures out what it will take to get us back to Him. He’ll put things in our way — lifesavers, so to speak, that we can grab onto, if we want to.

“If we don’t grab onto those lifesavers — if we go in another direction — he recalculates our course and puts other people there who can help us if we choose to take the help. And if we don’t take that help, he’ll recalculate and start all over. There’s never judgment. There’s never a rolled eye. He just loves us and wants us to get back to Him.”

That made sense to me. Our God may not be a God of infinite patience (the people in Noah’s time discovered that first-hand), but He certainly has a long rope. He certainly has put up with a lot from me in my sixty-five years. I have been a royal pain in the neck!

Next time your GPS comes on, telling you to turn right when you want to turn left, think of that other non-judgmental Voice, telling you to come home. Sometimes it may be more fun to go astray, but the way home will always be more fulfilling in the end.

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