On Getting Where we Want to Go

I’ve recently bought a new SatNav.  It promised much, but it disappointed – even in the initial set-up: it couldn’t find my “Home” address.  Someone using this SatNav system to find my house would be directed well enough to “Acorn Street”, but then have to drive slowly trying to work out where in the street my house is.  Suddenly, I feel I may have found the reason underlying my experience of 15 years of having to talk delivery drivers through the last quarter of a mile.

I genuinely don’t understand this.  The house I live in is older than me, and apart from sinking slightly downwards in the mid-1990s (rectified by underpinning), it hasn’t moved in all that time.  Yet it doesn’t appear on the SatNav’s searchable database.  Perhaps even more weirdly, neither does the centuries-old house belonging to my next-door neighbour.  As one of the contributors to the online support forum asked, “How come Google knows about new developments and you don’t know what’s been here forever?”

There are probably several reasons for this inadequacy.  For example, I also noticed today that, according to the SatNav, there was a Turkish restaurant in Tudor Close, Hunsdon.  Rather surprised at this new development in such a small village cul-de-sac, I looked up the restaurant’s website which (unsurprisingly) gives its address as Tudor Square, Ware.  I figured it was just human error and I let them know.  I’ve passed on information like this before; many years ago, I informed the makers of my previous SatNav that Eastwick Road, Hunsdon, had been renamed Church Lane, but nothing happened (despite me updating my maps).  Presumably, they didn’t believe me.  Or maybe someone reading my submission just got their wires crossed – some years later, I noticed that the private driveway off that road up to Brickhouse Farm had been renamed Church Lane!

So minor human error clearly plays a part in the SatNav’s failures, but I do not believe this explains everything.  It certainly doesn’t explain why long-established dwellings are missing from a database intended to help travellers find places all around the world.  No, it strikes me that the root of the problem is more likely to lie in the sources of information used by the manufacturers.  It is obvious that if information is missing in the sources, any person or process which relies on those incomplete sources is bound to come unstuck.

Of course, this is also true of life more generally.  If we base our life on incomplete or faulty information, we’re going to face difficulties.  We might end up somewhere near where we want to be, but near is not there; as the saying goes, “a miss is as good as a mile.”  In no sphere of life is this more important than our understanding of the character of God.  If we settle for the few short and simple lessons we learned at Sunday School, we may find that we end up in the wrong place – near but not there; Jesus warned that some would end up “outside, in the darkness, where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth”.  Far better for us to take time to investigate all the resources he has given us by which we can come to know him and love him and then be welcomed by him into his eternal home.

May God who came to seek and save the lost give us all a thirst for knowing him.