Following your GPS

This is chapter 2 of my book Driving with Christ keeping your faith alive while on the open road. If you have any comments or you like what you see please let me know. Thanks, -OT

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On October the 4th, 1957 the Soviet Union launched the first satellite into space. Sputnik 1 began its orbit around the Earth, and a new era of technological advancement was being ushered in. People at home would listen on the radio to the satellite’s ping while at night they could actually see that little speck of light travelling across the sky. For the two biggest powers on the planet, however, it was just the beginning of what would come to be known as the space race.

After the launch of Sputnik, scientists at John Hopkins University were able to study the orbit and signals coming from Sputnik and realized that because of how fast the satellite was moving they could use the doppler shift of the signal to accurately determine the satellites position while in orbit. Soon afterwards it was realized this process could be reversed. By using the satellites known orbit and studying the signals coming from the satellite as it moved, the scientists on the ground could in a way, figure out their own location on the planet. Using this idea, the next few decades would see satellite-based navigation slowly evolve into what is now the modern global positioning satellite system.

Nowadays there’s GPS in almost every piece of modern-day Electronics. From your car or truck GPS to your mobile device, global positioning satellites are working overtime around the world providing real-time location-based data. You can set up your Rand McNally or Garmin device in Miami, Florida, and it will give you turn-by-turn directions all the way to Seattle, Washington. For the trucking industry, GPS has changed the game. It’s not just turn by turn navigation but vehicle location services like Qualcomm and omnitracs that allow trucking companies to know where their vehicles are in the country at any time.

GPS in and of itself can definitely be a great thing, however it does have its drawbacks. One of the first things we learn in trucking school is to not always trust the GPS in our trucks. Sometimes it might take you down a wrong turn, or take you somewhere you don’t want to be like a residential zone. Sometimes the maps aren’t always up-to-date. One of my good friends learned this the hard way. He was actually following his truck gps and instead of taking him to his customer, he ended up at a military base!

Now you might be wondering why I’ve given you such a detailed lesson about GPS. Well first of all learning new things is awesome, and it doesn’t hurt to know a little history.. The second point that I wanted to bring up was about how after Sputnik was launched people on the ground could watch it travel across the night sky because to them it looked like a little ball of bright light.

Can you think of any other times in history when a bright light in the night sky grabbed people’s attention and changed the world as we know it? Let’s go back two thousand years when that brilliant bright star hovered above Bethlehem the night Christ was born. It could be seen from miles and it too was the beginning of a new era. Shepherds and wisemen followed the star until they reached the manger and honored the newborn Christ child.

I like to think that Jesus Christ is our own spiritual GPS. He’s our guide to redemption. You could say that he is God’s Plan for Salvation. And unlike the GPS in your vehicle or on your phone, this GPS will never take you in the wrong direction. It’ll never turn you the wrong way and it’ll never lose signal and have to recalculate itself. I know from personal experience that as long as I am following the GPS that is Christ, then my life will be absolutely awesome and I’ll have nothing to worry about. However when I’m following my own path and not paying attention to God’s will, my life just falls apart.

I’ve seen some pretty scary situations where people were following their regular GPS and completely ignoring their spiritual GPS. I’ve seen drivers follow their GPS to the letter and it ends up taking them through a highly compact school zone or down the road that they think leads to their customer but in reality is nothing but a dead end. Is the road to Salvation that you’re following actually going to get you there or are you just going to end up at a dead end because you were not following God’s plan for salvation?

Just like there is a vast variety of different GPS brands that you can buy on the market, there is a variety of Christian denominations that you can be a part of. In fact there are thousands upon thousands of different Christian denominations currently in existence in the world. You could suppose that having so much variety or choice in how you practice Christianity could be good. There’s a Christian faith for every type of person on the earth it seems. My question is how many are genuine and how many are cheap knockoffs?

Let me use a scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade to explain what I’m talking about. In the movie, Dr. Jones is looking for the Holy Grail. He has just met The Grail Knight but has been told you must choose, and Choose Wisely. In front of our hero are dozens upon dozens of chalices and cups, and any one of them could be the Grail. Some are ornate and golden with little jewels, but there is one that is simple, not fancy looking and just made of wood. It is upon this moment that Indiana Jones chooses wisely and grabs the cup of Christ.

Just like in that movie, all of these different denominations sparkle and have their own unique characteristics. However only one will give you everlasting life. And there is only one that will actually help you navigate life using your spiritual GPS. Every single Christian denomination that exist today is just a cheap imitation of the church that came before it, and was usually brought about by a disagreement. For example the Mormon church was founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith. The Methodist Church begin with John Wesley in the 18th century. The Lutheran Church came into existence in 1517 with Martin Luther. And the Roman Catholic Church led by Pope Leo X split from the Orthodox Church in 1054. However, the Orthodox Church has been around since Pentecost. It is the original Church that the Apostles themselves established.

Here’s why having the right faith is so important. Each church will have its own set of Theology and doctrines. Each church will have its own understanding of the Bible and their own interpretation. But if everyone has their own interpretation of the Bible and their own understanding of God’s word, then it’s a simple conclusion that not everyone will have gotten the right answer. This is why historical precedence is so important. The early church that the apostles were a part of, survived countless heresies and continues to proclaim and defended the faith throughout seven different ecumenical councils. The church not only has been, but still exists, and it professes the same teachings that it did 2000 years ago. In fact the word “orthodox” actually means “right belief” or “right praise.”

All of the wisdom combined with the proper interpretation of the Holy scriptures that the Orthodox Church provides, is vital in being able to properly follow your spiritual GPS. Without the church, your spiritual GPS won’t have the correct software. Christ says that he is the way the truth and the life, that he is the only way to Salvation. He is the spiritual GPS, as I like to call it. However it is through the eyes of the Orthodox Church that we are able to properly see the entire path that leads to Jesus. In other words, the Orthodox Church is how you calibrate yourself to make sure you are following Christ’s guidance properly.

Sadly every other denomination just misses the mark. They are ornate golden chalices and while they may be pretty and they do hold liquid (or pieces of the truth) they fall short because they do not have the fullness of the true church. They cannot properly interpret the scripture or God’s will because they weren’t there the beginning one it all started. They just don’t have the means to give proper discernment of what God’s will is. In other words, they haven’t gotten the proper updates to help configure and calibrate your spiritual GPS. Now I don’t want to say that if you’re not orthodox, you’re not going to have a relationship with Christ. I know plenty of non-orthodox people, and it is obvious that Christ works within them. It is just my opinion, that you’ll get the most out of a relationship with Christ through the church he founded. So like the Knight from Indiana Jones said, Choose Wisely.

So what is God’s plan for salvation? It is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who came down from heaven and was sacrificed so that sinners like you and I could be saved. It is following God’s Commandments, and not just following the original ten. We have to be following the Commandments that Jesus gives as well.

Jesus told us in Mark 5: 21-26

You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny.”

Christ also says in John 13: 34-35:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

So as you can see it’s not just following the original Ten Commandments, we also have to follow the ones Christ gave us as well.

Now that we are following our spiritual GPS, how do we avoid the snares of the enemy? By being aware and always vigilant.

Peter says in his epistle:

Be sober, be vigilant, for your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour,”

Satan is always ready, always watching, and always hoping that maybe we’ll careless enough not to keep our sights on Jesus, and get complacent in our easy mortal lives. Then it will be easier for him to attack. Everytime we pull away from the Church, we separate ourselves from the community, and we make ourselves vulnerable to attack from satan and his followers. Anytime we cease our prayer practice, or we get complacent with reading of Scripture, we make ourselves vulnerable and weak, and separate ourselves from the safety of the herd. Everytime that we are not consistent in our repentance and in humility, or come to confess our sins, or even prepare ourselves in the right way to receive Holy Communion, we make ourselves vulnerable to attack.

I know living on a truck isn’t always convenient for Holy Communion, confession and church services, but as we talked about in the last chapter, there are ways around that. Plus you can always be praying and reading the holy scriptures. This way even while on the road, you can protect yourself from the evil one.

So just to paraphrase, once we get complacent, or lazy, or maybe just too comfortable, that’s when it’s easiest for satan to pounce. I think Mad-Eye Moody from the Harry Potter series summed it up pretty well: “Constant Vigilance!”

So now you’re probably thinking to yourself, all right Ian everything you’ve said so far makes sense and I get it. But what about those times when I’m following Christ and I’m doing everything that I’m supposed to be doing and yet still bad things happen to me? What do I do then? What good is there in being a disciple of Christ if I’m just going to have to live through terrible ordeals? You make some good points, I’m not going to lie. Life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. There are good times and there are bad times. There is life, but there is also suffering. But remember Christ himself asks us to pick up our cross and follow him. It’s in those moments when we are struggling especially hard that we need to turn even more so and ask God for help. An example that I think would be great to look at in this situation would be Righteous Job.

Job had everything: a loving family, he was wealthy and he was esteemed throughout the community. However in just one day he lost everything. Job lost his children, lost all of his money, and all the fame he had was gone. His body was weak and frail and covered in boils. Yet he remained patient and steadfast in his faith and for the next seven years, he praised and gave glory to God. Because of Job’s faith, God not only healed him from his afflictions, but he also restored his former glory, wealth, and family. Even though he suffered because he had faith and believed in God, he was restored.

If you are suffering, perhaps because you were recently in an accident, or maybe you lost your job for one reason or another or some other negative thing has happened to you, I want you to take a look at what youp still have. You are still alive, that means God hasn’t given up on you yet. Are you fed? Are you dry? Do you have a roof over your head and are you warm? Even if you don’t have any of those things as long as you are still alive and breathing and can still think for yourself, not all Is lost.

I too have personal experience in this area. There’s been plenty of times where I’m following Christ, keeping him front and center in my heart and everything is going great. In those moments, I have no worries. Then there are times when I let go of him and just do whatever I feel like doing, living however I feel like living and before I know it, I have nothing but problems and issues that I have to deal with. Basically, without God my life sucks.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. My wife and I had drifted away from the church, and I wasn’t really praying. I was just living on a day-to-day basis. I was unhappy, depressed and miserable. I blamed God for putting me in such a crappy situation and I blamed my wife because I felt like she no longer loved me. I allowed myself to live in a fantasy of being with an old Crush of mine and I decided instead of fixing a relationship or praying about any of this, it would simply just be easier to file for divorce. I took no accountability for my own responsibilities in the marriage and I really didn’t give a rat’s ass about what the church said about divorce or what my wife would think.

I filed the paperwork in January of 2018 and had her served. Pretty soon as I came to my senses and realized that I wasn’t just divorcing my wife, I was tearing my family apart. I was also cutting a hole in my relationship with God. It was a horrible situation to be in. The good news is my wife and I did not get divorced, instead when I came home to pack up my stuff, I saw my wife praying like I had never seen before. My heart melted and once again I felt God’s love all around me. We again committed ourselves to each other and to God and have become even closer than before.

No day goes by without me thanking God for the wonderful woman that he has blessed me with. There’s not a day that goes by that I forget to thank him for the wonderful family that I have. And just like Job, no matter what happens in the future I will praise God for all that he gives and all that he takes away, because after all, he knows best.

If you need further direction and discernment, I highly recommend reading the lives of the Saints. I am particularly fond of the lives of the desert fathers. Their stories contain so much wisdom and guidance that is impossible do not feel move upon reading their stories. Their lives contain so much inspiration and guidance for our own lives, not to mention the awe that you feel upon reading about their struggles and how they journeyed to holiness. Many of the Great Saints themselves suffer and struggle but had to deal with hardship. And yet they never wavered in their faith.

All right, let’s wrap up this chapter. Global Positioning Systems have certainly changed the world and mostly for the better. But remember to make sure you’re being diligent, paying attention and that your GPS is not leading you down the wrong path. Remember to use not just the GPS on your dash, but also the one that leads to Salvation. And if you’re struggling, keep praying.

Remember my friend who ended up at the military base? He put the correct address into his commercial GPS system and assumed he was following the correct path, and yet he was still lead astray. Are you following the correct path?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths”

Proverbs 3:5-6

All right my friend thank you for reading today’s post. This is actually chapter 2 from my book Driving with Christ. If you like this please let me know, maybe it’ll give me encouragement to keep working and finally finish the book.

Thanks again my friends and I’ll see you next time.

-Orthodox Trucker

My dashboard has a trucker GPS but more importantly I also have spiritual GPS to help guide me on my way

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