My husband and I installed a GPS in our minivan because, silly us, we thought it would be helpful. It’s not. Darn thing just gets me into trouble.
“Mom, you’re going over the speed limit.” My seven-year-old piped up from the back seat. I glanced at that know-it-all black nark box suctioned to the dashboard. Hmmph.
Speed Limit: 30. MPH: 37 (Note the bold, red digits for all literate passengers to behold.)
“Actually, the speed limit here is 35, sweetheart. The GPS is wrong.”
“But Mom, 37 is still two more than 35.”
Ooookay. Sometimes advanced math skills are not an attractive quality in children. But rather than lecture my daughter on the nuances of speed limit enforcement, I decided to humble myself and encourage her obedience.
“You’re right, lovey. Thank you for pointing out my mistake. I’ll slow down.” And then we crept the rest of our route to school, while other vehicles passed us on both sides.
Since my daughter began scrutinizing my driving, I’ve taken to climbing behind the wheel in trepidation, as if a squad car is trailing me everywhere I go, eager to pounce with a ticket and three points off my license. This might make me pay closer attention to my speed, but it’s really no way to live. I’m just waiting for the billy club to come down on my head at any moment.
Do you ever see God that way?
Like he’s some stern, cosmic traffic cop with tickets in hand and a quota to fill. He watches your every move, hungry to nail you for any minor—or major—offense. So you keep your eyes on the rearview mirror and travel cautiously, anxiously through life. As if God gets his kicks out of punishing you.
I used to think that, too.
But let’s meet the God of the Bible.
“The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth,” (Psalm 103: 8–11, NLT).
I think it’s hard to imagine God as he really is—compassionate and overwhelmingly forgiving—because we don’t actually know any people like that. People complain. People find fault with each other. People hold grudges and keep score. Even the “nice” people struggle to forgive “bad” offenses.
He isn’t like us.
His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8–9)
He is eternally trustworthy (Proverbs 3:5-6)
. . . always good (Psalm 107:1)
. . . and never changing (Hebrews 13:8).
He doesn’t keep a record of our mistakes. (2 Corinthians 13:5)
He loves us in spite of them. (John 3:16, 1 John 3:1)
Isn’t that good news?
So if your picture of God doesn’t match the picture painted in the Bible, it’s time to toss your old assumptions and dig into the book. Get ready to encounter an amazing God—one who loves us like crazy, forgives us beyond measure, and sent his perfect Son to die on a cross so that we can live forever, without fear or shame. Even when we happen to drive a couple miles over the speed limit, or worse.
Oh, and by the way? I found a setting on my GPS that shuts off the MPH display. Yeah—I’m totally using it.