The Ultimate Map vs. Jenny Garmin
Call me old-school, but I miss maps. Maps are clear (assuming you can trust the designer). You can see where you are, where you’ve been, and where you want to go. Are they cumbersome and bulky? Yes. Do they possibly require you to pull over and take a moment to reconsider your route? Yes. But I’m willing to put up with a bit of inconvenience in the short run to save frustration in the long-run. Being lost sucks.
Enter, the GPS. We call ours Jenny Garmin (she just sounds like a Jenny somehow). I’m sure Jenny is a lovely gal and all, but she’s not so good at her job, kind of a slacker. She not only gets me lost, but I usually end up having several near-miss accidents when trying to navigate busy highways through cities. She understands in theory where I need to be, but doesn’t always pick the best way to get me there. She often doesn’t know about roadblocks and detours and doesn’t always communicate clearly. One way or another, I usually end up stressed out when I rely on her.
What do maps and Jenny Garmin have to with Genesis? I’m so glad you asked.
Beginning to End. One reason I don’t like the GPS is because it’s too hard to see your whole route. I need to see the big picture before I can understand the small picture. That’s true for me with life in general and it’s true with the Bible too. The book of Genesis is rich with hidden truths to be uncovered… like a treasure map. We see where and how it all began. God reveals Himself. Genesis contains the answers to so many questions the seeking heart wants to uncover. The Bible is a map you can unfold to see the entire journey and start to make some sense of it, and Genesis is where it all began.
Multiple routes. My husband and I often ignore our GPS if we don’t like the route Jenny Garmin lays out for us. She keeps trying to correct our path to get us back on track. We laugh, “Silly Jenny, you’re confused again. We know better. Hush now.” And then we mute her. We’re like this with God too sometimes aren’t we? Thinking we know the way better. But God isn’t like Jenny. Our omniscient, omnipresent God absolutely knows the right way. He is the ultimate Map-maker. He doesn’t irritatingly harp at us like Jenny when we veer off the path. (Although, according to the Bible, you may encounter an angel or talking donkey on your route if you’re not going the right way). Usually (in my experience), God gently nudges us back in the right direction, brilliantly weaving our free will with the free wills of all of those around us, continually pointing us toward the Path of Life, further up and farther in. One way or another, we all started in Genesis. And we all end up in the book of Revelation… but there are infinite possibilities in between, including lots of chances to get lost and opportunities to be redirected. I’m grateful that God has given us His Map and that we don’t have to rely on our own fallible sense of direction (or poor Jenny Garmin) to get us to the Good Life.
Which way do I go?
Maybe you’re not the type to stop and ask for directions. I’ve heard people assert that they have a “simple faith” and don’t need answers to deep questions. Child-like faith is wonderful. And yes, we need to know when we’ve crossed the line of seeking God’s truth to draw closer to Him, into the realm of seeking answers to satisfy our ego. We all need to concede that there are answers we may never have this side of heaven. But I also believe it’s healthy to cultivate a holy hunger to know God. And one of the primary ways He’s chosen to communicate with us is through His written Word. Some people dispute this, but to me it makes more sense to trust a historically-supported, scientifically-backed, written document, than relying on hear-say, worldly wisdom or our own ideas. Imagine for a second, you’ve never heard of a bible. Then imagine someone told you the Creator of the universe wrote a book–a book like no other that will speak personally to you, that contains answers to the secrets of the ages, that is guaranteed to change your life forever. Wouldn’t you want to read that book? It’s one of the rare things in life that sounds too good to be true, but actually is.
But then you get the book, and you start at the beginning like you would any other book, and you find it a little hard to follow, a little hard to believe. Even though you keep hearing people talk about this book, and it’s widely-considered one of the best-selling books of all time, you give up and leave it on the shelf to gather dust. If that’s you… maybe this study will help. Even the best books need updating and exploration considering the context of their own day and time. Journey with me and let’s uncover the secrets together.
Or maybe you faithfully read the Bible, but mostly just the words on the page, just for comfort and moral guidance or because your pastor said you should and you feel guilty if you don’t. Maybe you’d like to dig deeper and really connect with God. This study is for you too.
And even if you’ve already been in the mines for years, I pray the Lord will reveal new insights through this study to you too. If you’re a veteran, no doubt you’ve experienced God’s fresh revelation through other believers. I’m going to present some ideas that may be controversial. So let me say from the outset that I’m a student, just like you, so there’s always a chance that the thoughts I present for consideration aren’t completely correct. But it’s my hope that they’ll encourage you to draw beyond the words, deeper into the scripture with God, and let Him reveal what it means for you on a more personal level.
Together then, let’s open our maps and not be afraid or too prideful to ask for direction. And let’s start… In the beginning.