Thank God for GPS and the Holy Spirit

No one has ever actually died at the hands of my driving, but my friends will tell you that they’d all prefer it if I wasn’t in charge of getting us from point A to point B on any given trip.  And, if I’m being honest, I’ll admit that there are things that I’m really good at but driving isn’t one that immediately comes to mind.  Poor depth perception, a lack of ability to estimate time, and an incessant need to look at whomever is speaking have all wreaked havoc on my credibility as a driver. 

In addition to my less-than-stellar driving skills, I also get to claim being directionally challenged as a potential reason why I’m not the designated driver for any weekend road trips.  I can convince myself that north is south quicker than a sports car accelerating in the express lane.  My mother and brother can instinctively know whether we should turn left or right when the way is unclear.  I do not possess this instinctiveness and will, instead, be staring at the license plate of the car next to us, trying to make sense of it’s custom vanity plate instead of checking the GPS as would be helpful.  

On a driving trip to Dallas with my mother many years ago, in the middle of one of the massive mixmasters that Dallas/Ft. Worth is known for, I missed my exit and rerouted myself, heading north instead of east as I should have been.  I had a small but mighty panic attack while my mother causally navigated us to where we needed to go using back roads and a general sense of us needing to go “that way.”  We arrived at our destination on time and not at all hurt thanks to my mother’s intuition and no thanks to my dramatic flair in determining that we’d likely never ever reach my aunt’s house because of my exit blunder and would be stuck in traffic for the rest of our lives.

Every trip needs entertainment, right?

There wasn’t a specific instance where I suddenly knew what God’s voice sounded like.  It was more of a gradual thing and only when I heard something other than His voice did I realize that I had a semblance of what His sounded like.

I grew up going to church every time the doors were open.  My brothers and I were expected and encouraged to read the Bible.  I was given a wide berth and a lot of grace when it came time for me to establish my own faith, apart from my parental influences.  And, still, it took me twenty years to be able to recognize when God was speaking.  I’ve never audibly heard Him like Moses did at the burning bush.  But, within my spirit, inside me, I have heard Him many times.  Promptings to do things that would bring Him glory.   Rarely straight answers to questions, usually more of a reminder of who He is and what His purpose for me is.  Nudges. And, I’ve come to realize that the time I’ve spent studying scripture helped me know what He sounded like, but it is only when I get quiet that I actually hear Him.

Attention Deficit Disorder wasn’t a thing when I was growing up.  But, I am convinced that had it been, I would have benefitted from medication to calm my active mind.  I’ve been told that there are two basic and broad avenues of attention deficit.  One of these broad options is when the brain is so focused on a single thing that it only computes exactly what it’s focused on, leaving everything else that’s happening by the wayside, almost as if it’s being ignored.  And then, the other option is that the brain is reading and processing everything as if there is no filter and everything is getting through so nothing is actually being consumed, intellectually.  The latter option is exactly how my brain works.  And, I find that being quiet and still happens so infrequently that sometimes I completely miss what God is saying in my spirit.  It’s not enough for me to sit in a quiet room with my devices turned off.  I have to quiet my mind and thoughts.  I have to stop talking – in my mind and to myself – to give God space to speak and for me to hear Him.

Similar to my terrible driving and lack of directional skills and the panic I feel when I miss an exit,  I am terrible about living each day as if I know what’s going on, insisting that I know what needs to be done and how it needs to be done better than anyone else.

I come from a long line of list-makers.  We Brants like a check-mark next to a task to show what we did with our time each day.  These lists act as motivation to get things done and affirmation when I can check them off the list.  I write a To Do list nearly every evening about what I’d like to accomplish the following day.  Some tasks roll over to the next day’s list if I’ve not been able to get everything done, and some tasks get scratched out because I’ve determined to do something different.  But, most tasks go on the notepad each night and get check-marked by the end of the next day.

Earlier this summer, I had this epiphany about how I’ve pushed and shoved my way through each To Do list without stopping to consider if what I’ve been doing is what God has wanted me to do that day.

While planning and preparing are incredibly important, I have to accept that if I’m terrible at directions and driving, chances are I’m terrible at guiding myself through each day.

And, if I’ve been given this Spirit, indwelling, to help me do what I can’t do on my own, wouldn’t it make sense to make my lists every evening but to come to God with open hands each day so that He can guide me to what He wants me to do?

With that thought in mind, I’ve started, just after my alarm goes off each morning, before my day starts asking, “God, what do you want me to do today?”

Giving God space to make my day whatever He wants has prompted a shift within me.  My daily actions and interactions have followed suit.  Most days, I carry on, working my way through my To Do list – emptying the dishwasher and calling about getting my lawn mowed and writing for a new nonfiction writing challenge.   But, there are times when I know that He has orchestrated something within the ordinary simply because I’ve given Him the space to dictate what my day will look like.

Doing this for even just a few short months has strengthened my ability to hear God.  On top of the scripture reading and praying, this simple question has opened a communication line that has connected me to God in a mighty way.

And what about you?  Are you a good driver and know what to do and where to go?  You’ll still want to hear what God has planned each day.  Slow down.  Take your hands off the wheel.  Let God tell you what to do and where to go.

Or, are you like me – flying by the seat of your pants hoping someone knows where you are and how to get you back on track?  You’ll want to hear what God has planned each day.  Slow down.  Take your hands off the wheel.  Let God tell you what to do and where to go.

And, see if this little question – God, what do you want me to do today? – doesn’t create space for Him to remind you that He has you right where He wants you.

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