Once I owned acreage in the Mojave desert. Situated at the northern end of a growing town, just outside the back door to Joshua Tree National Park, it was a big hunk of raw land. A dry wash cut across one corner, exposing rocks the color of copper, the color of sea water. Desert tortoise burrows pocked the side of a small hill along its western boundary. Lizards scrambled for cover under scrub at the sound of human footsteps. It felt good to own a chunk of God’s creation.
During escrow, as the surveyor staked the corners of the land, red ribbons fluttering in the arid breeze, my companion and I marked the locations as waypoints in a handheld GPS.
A few weeks later we returned to camp on our property, bringing a friend. With the pride of fresh proprietorship, we set out to walk the perimeter of the 75 acres. The men started off, calling up a waypoint on the GPS and walking the path it directed them to take. I trailed along behind.
“There’s one of the corners,” I called out a few minutes later. They peered at the GPS screen.
“Wait,” one said. “It looks like it should be over this way–” I collapsed in laughter as he tripped over the surveyor’s stake. They’d been so engrossed in watching the digital display, they’d never looked up to search the property for the red flags the surveyor had left.
Last summer we’d promised to return our grandson Cadence to his father’s new house after he spent a weekend with us. Google Maps indicated a left turn. Cadence said, “Turn that way!” pointing to the right, as we entered his father’s neighborhood.
The little boy knew the way to his daddy’s house better than Google did.
I’m tempted, in this world of digital gadgets and pocket devices, to turn to technology when my next move is unclear to me. Whether I’m trying to locate a new restaurant or lose five pounds before Christmas, there’s an app for that.
But just like a four-year-old knows the way to his daddy’s house, I find that my best guidance, my clearest direction, doesn’t come from Google Maps or GPS devices or the latest dieting app.
It comes when I look up.
105 Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.
106 I have sworn and I will confirm it,
That I will keep Your righteous ordinances.
Psalm 119:105-106 (NASB)