Pause for Thought – a five minute read – 33

Jonah 2 v 1 – 10

I never owned a Sat Nav in my car until 2009 as I always had a town centre map or a gazetteer provided by the local authority. Generally these were adequate because my journeys were of a local nature or at worst within the boundaries of Derbyshire or Nottinghamshire.

In 2009 I retired from local government and for a couple of years I worked with a local company of private surveyors, who operated on a national basis which meant that I could be sent anywhere in the UK. Now I needed a Sat Nav, so I purchased one which at the time was fairly top of the range but on occasions even that was not good enough.

I recall one occasion when both Sat Nav and map book were of no use. I was sent to remote farm just West of Llangollen in Wales. I set the Sat Nav for the destination but it would not recognise the name of the farm (I couldn’t even pronounce it), nor was there a road name, so I had to rely on the post code.

All went well until I left the main A5 road and soon the roads became ‘unsuitable for heavy vehicles’ then ‘unsuitable for caravans’ and then eventually they became ‘unsuitable’ and this was at a time when I did not have a 4×4. My Sat Nav continually told me to do a U turn when safe to do so, and indicated that I was driving across an open field, not very helpful.

All building regulation applications should have a site plan which shows the location of the work in relation to the surrounding roads, so I parked in a gateway leading to a farmer’s field and extracted the site plan from the big envelope containing the application. On examining the plan it indicated a few spidery lines, which I assumed to be tracks, and a red circle around the word ‘Farm’.

I was just in the mental process of expressing my dissatisfaction as to quality of the site plan, when I heard a tap on my car window. It was an elderly gentleman who had the appearance of a farmer, asking me if I was lost. I explained that I was not actually lost because I knew roughly where I was but had difficulty in finding the farm. He explained that he had lived here all his life and he may be able to help.

I showed him the site plan and he pondered over it for a minute, then smiled and said, ‘that’s Owen’s place’. I pointed out that the name on the plans was ‘Travers’ and not Owen, but he was adamant and repeated, ‘that’s Owen’s place’.

He then gave me directions; – turn round, go down the track for about a mile, over the cross roads, through the ford, and about a mile further you come to Owen’s place.

I had noticed a cross roads on the spidery lines on the site plan so I thought he could be right so I thanked him and prepared to drive off until he put his hand on the car door.

‘I’ve just thought ‘he said, ‘just after the ford the road forks, don’t go left keep to the right. If you go left it takes you to, Travers place and you don’t want to go there’.

I found Travers place, and I wish I hadn’t, it took me a month to get the mud off my car, if it was mud, despite driving through the ford twice.

Since then I have bought cars which have Sat Navs fitted which seem a little better than the detachable versions, although I still have the need to argue with it when it doesn’t know where it’s going. The times when it tells me to turn on the next left and the next left is someone’s drive way, or when its tells me to turn right at the traffic lights, but the road has been changed and there is no traffic lights, but there is a very large roundabout. Why can’t the Sat Nav think like me?

I’m always waiting for the day when the Sat Nav answers me back when I’ve got it wrong and says, ‘OK now you’ve tried it your way, try it mine’

I wonder if that’s what God said to Jonah

God gave specific directions to Jonah to go the Nineveh and deliver a message of repentance, but Jonah insisted on going in the wrong direction. He would have rather have gone anywhere but to Nineveh and tried all he could to avoid the place.

But when God gives directions there is no getting away from it. There is no wrong advice from God; his is the right way, the only way. It may not be the most scenic route or the route that avoids hills and valleys but God’s route is where we must go. Just like Jonah if God gives us a job to do we will do it, like it or not, ask most preachers and ministers when God first calls there is reluctance in our hearts and we ask questions, am I good enough? Is this really what God wants me to do? Do I have the necessary skills to do this?

Despite the questions God keeps bringing us back to his route and taking us on his journey. Like Jonah we will reach that place where God wants to be and we will give his message.

Many years ago as a young man, I watched the first James Bond film ‘Dr No’ at the cinema. Bond had an Aston Martin with a Sat Nav that came up on his dashboard to enable him to track the bad guy. As I sat in the cinema I thought that one day I would have an Aston Martin with a gadget like that.

I got the gadget but the Aston Martin still eludes me. 

Derek T.