The Perfect GPS

The Way that Changed the World: Acts 1-2:13
The Perfect GPS

It is in the deepest darkness of the starless midnight that men learn how to hold on to the hidden Hand most tightly and how that Hand holds them; that He sees where we do not, and knows the way He takes; and though the way be to us a roundabout way, it is the right way. ~A.T. Pierson[1]

The ultimate driving experience

Before I moved to Dubai, I heard many expatriate tales of what it was like to drive in the Emirates. It didn’t scare me. I carpooled and commuted the freeways of Houston, Texas for over 25 years, including a daily pass through one of the most dangerous interchanges in the country. I felt confident I could navigate driving conditions in modern Dubai. How bad could it be, I thought. It didn’t take me long to realize that I was in a new and different world. The navigation rules I always depended on no longer applied. In Dubai, north isn’t really north, maps are unreliable, and freeway signs are confusing. You know the lines that mark roadway lanes? Turns out they are really just suggestions, so are speed limits. Sheikh Zayed Road, our main thoroughfare, is a playground for Formula 1 wannabes. Sometimes, a destination just across the street is a 15-minute trip through several U-turns and a couple of roundabouts. What do you do when the GPS lady tells you to go left when you really need to go right? Necessity fostered a search for an easier and more reliable method of getting around. I learned to ask people, “Can you tell me the way?” In response I get good directions based on landmarks, like  – “take Jeremiah Beach Road towards the Burj Khalifa, look for the big flag and make a right next to the pink building before you get to the large roundabout”. Not what I was used to but very effective nonetheless. I had to learn a new way to navigate, different from what I knew, and I needed someone to guide me.

I needed a different way to navigate Dubai

I found myself thinking about Luke and The Acts of the Apostles the other day as I was once again navigating my way around Dubai. Acts is also a tale of navigation. Luke records the birth pangs of the early church through the experiences of the Apostles as they learn to live in their newfound faith. For them, the law was the voice from the GPS that had always told them where to go and how to get there. When Jesus came, He brought an end to the law. With the end of the law came a new voice from the GPS, Jesus’ voice, and a new way that was different from anything they had ever known. They learn to follow that voice and then suddenly…it was gone. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, He ascended into heaven, as the apostles stood there, watching Him go. Then, they are alone (Acts 1:9). I imagine they were frightened and confused at this turn of events, wondering if they were now to be without any guidance at all. But Jesus gave them one last bit of direction, and a promise, before His departure.

“Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”(Acts 1:4-5)

The Apostles receive the Holy Spirit – the perfect GPS

I believe the apostles clung to this promise in the interim days that followed. It seems they clung to each other as well. How? They remained unified and devoted to prayer (Acts 1:14), devoted to the scriptures as well (Acts 1:16) and finally, they led by forging ahead. (Acts 1:24-26). In Jesus’ bodily absence they keep moving, confident He would keep His promise and invigorated at what was to come. Fifty days later, Pentecost is the setting when the apostles receive a “navigation system” that surpasses all others.[2] The Holy Spirit of the living God comes and indwells them and all believers in Acts 2:1-4. Now the voice from the GPS is a permanent, internal guide that will show them the way, as they become The Way[3] in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the Earth.

The Holy Spirit that indwelt believers on that Pentecost so long ago is the same Holy Spirit that indwells every believer today. We have access to the same power, the same voice, the same courage, and the same guidance. Trouble is, our perfect navigation inhabits an imperfect body. We tend to rely on ourselves way too much, thinking we can outsmart the navigation system and find an easier way, without tapping into the resource that God has so graciously given us. How much more confidence and peace would we have if we fully trusted that voice to tell us the way. I want to listen more closely, do you?

Give me a revelation, Show me what to do
Cause I’ve been trying to find my way, I haven’t got a clue
Tell me should I stay here, Or do I need to move
Give me a revelation
I’ve got nothing without You[4]

[2] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953-2001). Vol. 17: Exposition of

the Acts of the Apostles. New Testament Commentary (74–75). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House. The word Pentecost is derived from a Greek word meaning “fiftieth.” The Jews celebrated Pentecost as the Feast of Weeks on the fiftieth day after Passover (Lev. 23:15–16; Deut. 16:9–12). They also called it the Feast of Harvest (Exod. 23:16). Pentecost was a harvest festival when the Jewish people presented their first fruits of the wheat harvest. (Num. 28:26).

[3] Carpenter, E. E., & Comfort, P. W. (2000). Holman treasury of key Bible words: 200 Greek and 200 Hebrew words defined and explained (416). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers. The Greek term hodos means “road” or “way.” In the Bible, it was used in both the literal sense and in the spiritual sense—especially in the Gospel of John. Once the disciples followed this “way,” they were convinced that it was the only “Way” to God. This was their spiritual reality and their proclamation to the world. Indeed, the early Christians called their movement “The Way”—and that is how they were first known by outsiders (Acts 9:2; 18:26; 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14, 22).

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One Response to The Perfect GPS

  1. Jools says:

    Awesome.

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