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Students at commencement

Ministry in Context

A present that gave guilt

I got this marvelous present for Christmas a few weeks ago, but now it is driving me crazy and, more than that, causing me to examine my life in a way that is not flattering.

The gift was a portable GPS unit to go in my car. Perfect. On the one hand I love technological gizmos and had admired GPS units for several years. On the other hand I am cheap, and have never been willing to spring to buy one for myself. So it came as a Christmas gift. Perfect.

We were celebrating Christmas at my son's house. It is ten miles from my house. I've made the drive a few hundred times. Nevertheless, I fired up the GPS and allowed it to lead me home, which it did flawlessly, right down to turning me into the driveway.

I brought it into the house and put it in a cupboard near the garage and I haven't taken it out since. It's been a month. Why haven't I taken it out? Because in that month I have never gone anywhere that I haven't gone many times before.

Pretty sad, huh? A whole month of going the same old familiar places, never going someplace new, never trying the untried. In the next few days I'm going to pick out a place to go, someplace I've never been; I'm going to pick an obscure address out of the phone book or something like that; and invite the GPS to lead me there.

Of course, since I am an old preacher this isn't just about the GPS and how I drive. It's about us and how we live. I hope our interns, our supervisors, our congregations are needing to haul out their GPS units all the time because they are in the larger sense of things going someplace new, someplace they haven't been before, trying something new. It's easy to stick with what we have been doing, to get "in the groove" until that groove turns into a rut. I think we should all be doing crazy things on a regular basis and trusting our Godly GPS (remember the original GPS system? "A pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night!") to deliver us safely through.

I'm going to use my GPS this month; how about you?

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