Old Testament satnav

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When I was a child I used to love this book. It was about an Old Testament Syrian General called Naaman (you can read about him in 2 Kings 5). The story was told in rhyme and I asked for it as my bedtime story so often that I knew the whole story off by heart. My parents used to get so bored with it that they would make deliberate mistakes as they read it to try to see if I noticed. I did.

I was reminded of Naaman today, by my satnav. No, it didn’t get all ‘Old Testament’ on me: “At the roundabout take the third exit and then cross the Red Sea…” What happened was that I had installed a system update on it a while ago and ever since then it had developed a fault: when there was an instruction prior to a roundabout it used to say (for example) “Turn left, then cross the roundabout, third exit.” But after the update it just said “Turn left, then cross the roundabout.”

That was insufficient information – it meant that I didn’t know where to position my car approaching the roundabout or which way to indicate until I had got much closer to the roundabout, by which time it may have been too late. I sent an email to the support team at my satnav and explained the situation and received an email back telling me to reset the satnav.

I could not see how that would make a difference. It felt too easy. It felt like the old ‘turn it off and on again’ or ‘press ctrl+alt+delete’ approach to technical problems. I had already installed a new operating system and surely that would have involved a reset. And anyway, I didn’t want to risk losing all of the saved places that I had in the satnav.

So I wrote back to the tech support man and pointed all of this out. I wanted to know why a system reset would make a difference. I wanted a better answer.

And then I thought that perhaps the tech support man knew what he was talking about. I reckoned that maybe this was a problem they had come across before and that this was a solution that had worked. And anyway, all of my places were backed up in the cloud. And what could it hurt?

So I did a reset.

And then I reloaded my saved places and re-linked it to my phone to receive live traffic updates. And then I switched it on and set my next destination.

Lo and behold, thus spake the satnav: “Turn left, then enter the roundabout and take the third exit.” Ooh, new improved instructions and not only that but the voice was restored to the politely-spoken voice I remembered from before the update! Sarah the satnav was back to her best.

Ah. Time to eat some humble pie. I have written back to the tech support man and apologised for my attitude… I learnt a lesson in trusting others, letting go of pride and realising I don’t know everything. That was Naaman’s lesson too.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

achieving the ordinary

thumbs up 2I was proud of myself today. I remembered to do something without being reminded, I found that I had thought about it beforehand (even though I had forgotten that I had thought about it beforehand) and had all that I needed in order to do what I had to do. I felt pleased that I had been able to complete what could have been a lengthy task in a matter of a few minutes because of the preparation I had done.

So is the thought today that preparation makes life easier (like ‘a stitch in time saves nine’)? Well it could be, but no.

Is the thought today that remembering things is important (with or without electronic reminders or knots tied in handkerchiefs)? It could be, but no.

The reflection I had was to ask myself why I was so proud of doing something that well organised people would have done without thinking. Why was I so pleased that I had achieved what I needed to do? It was not as if it was something I have not done before, and it is not as if it is something that nobody else ever does. Why was I expecting some sort of gold star or certificate of merit for doing something ‘normal’?

I think it’s because I surprised myself. I was not expecting to have done so well. I thought that I had failed to prepare and was prepared to fail. And I wanted others to know that I had done well. Pride was motivating me to elevate my ordinary achievement into the realm of the extraordinary. It can do that. We can assume that others may have the same low expectations of us that we have and hope that if we exceed them they will share in our surprise and pride in the achievement.

Before I get to introspective and start beating myself I remember too that God’s expectations of us are both realistic and optimistic. He knows what we are capable of, and he also knows that we are capable of not achieving those things. He knows that we can beat ourselves up when we fail, and overemphasising our achievements when we succeed. And his response to us is the same regardless: I love you.

That is not an unconditional love based on our achievements (or lack of). It is an absolute. Our value and esteem in God’s eyes cannot be enhanced in any way because it is already at maximum – I love you.

Be blessed, be a blessing

(At this point, are you itching to find out what it was? I’m sorry but that itch will remain unscratched!)