I have an interesting relationship with Siri, the female voice on my GPS. I have been led off course more than one time by her. The first time that I ever experimented with the navigation app on my new smart phone, I programmed in the name of an elementary school where I had never taught, but that I had recently added to the list of schools where I wanted to be available to substitute teach. The name of the school was Oak Hill Elementary School, in Oak Hill, Florida. Siri launched me into a direction that seemed to be wrong, but far be it from me to question the superior wisdom of cutting edge technology. I know my limitations when it comes to physics. I assumed that the GPS must be taking me a back way, where I would encounter less traffic. Over an hour later, I found myself at another Oak Hill Elementary two counties away. Probably everyone has had some similar experience.
But in my own life, I have experienced spiritual growth and direction in terms of an interactive dance with the Divine, much as I experience the help of the GPS when I am driving.
Then I took my daughter and grandsons on a dream vacation in Hawaii, where my two New Mexico boys were treated to their first surfing lessons on the famed north beach of Oahu. So far, so good. Siri got us there from Honolulu, right to the house that we had contracted to rent for two weeks. But we were led on many fools’ errands during the trip, although we always eventually found our destinations, usually by the time-honored last resort of verbal directions from someone at a gas station. I learned my lesson. Now I always check map quest or get back-up verbal directions ahead of time. If I don’t like Siri’s route, I follow my own plan and let the GPS reroute itself to the way that I want to go. Siri always meets me where I am and leads me to the right place if I get lost. But I have a plan to fall back on, in case her robotic tunnel vision turns out to be inferior to my own human reasoning.
That is the way I think of the relationship between free will and God’s guidance in my life. I use the gifts I have been given, the truths I have been taught, and my best powers of reasoning to make decisions. But even when I understand later that I have made some unwise detours, the Higher Power always meets me where I am to make Holy use of the choices that I have made and the wisdom I have gained to achieve God’s Holy purposes. As many other people of faith experience this same intersecting of choice and God’s grand plan, we move ever toward the dream of “peace and good will to men” (and women) for which we are all searching.