map apps

This excerpt comes from Chapter 8 in the book.

In the mid 1990s, my parents purchased one of the first GPS devices made available to the public . . . for about $700. They still have the exact same one today! My wife and I eventually purchased one in Belgium for about €120 (approximately $140 at the time). Now we just use a free app on our phone. Honestly, I was thankful the day GPS devices became somewhat affordable.

GPS devices are a gift because I, quite frankly, despise using physical maps for navigation. This might be a “guy thing,” but I just don’t like them. In a time when getting around depended on really sitting down and studying a map, I rarely did so. Rather I stubbornly chose to print out driving instructions line by line (via the internet) to help me get anywhere. That kind of dictated approach was much easier than trying to follow road lines on a map, and especially where they converged with other road lines. Not to mention, how does one effectively read a map while driving on a long, multiple-hour journey? You need a co-pilot and I usually lacked such a resource.

The GPS device, and now the subsequent app, is worthy of a raised glass, for I can now easily navigate during any car journey, whether short or long. And if I get lost, it will simply re-route me to the correct place.

I believe God had provided a path forward for this new season for my wife and I. Still, there was no line-by-line print out; there was no GPS app to chart out the journey. It seldom works that way and, in retrospect, that was a good thing. This was to be a faith journey, perhaps something like Abraham’s trek from his old hometown to a new land. We are told, “he did not know where he was going” (Heb 11:8). My wife and I knew where we were going (Belgium), but not all that would involve along the way. Of course, we headed out with excitement and anticipation but we still needed to connect hearts of faith with the One whom we believed was leading us.

At the time, I was convinced there would be more similarities than differences in this new chapter in life. We were moving to Europe. I’d done this before five years earlier; my wife was British and had lived in France. We’ve got this down pat, right?

Not so much.

This was going to be a lesson in change for the first time, again.

I laughed at it then; I laugh at it now. Perhaps my first moment on Belgian turf provided a bit of a foreshadowing of my own unpreparedness for this venture.

When we boarded the plane in Memphis, it was a relatively mild day for June (it was in the low-80s rather than mid to upper 90s). I donned a t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops. My thinking was that I would have the opportunity of being a pastor who brought that relaxed, non-religious feel in the midst of a city of business-folk and diplomats. I came from a laid back, artistic ministry setting. Let’s carry this forward. Sure, I’ll be the pastor of the church, but my name will be Scott, not “pastor” (since that word was not on my birth certificate), and we’ll level the playing field for all.

I realize now that I was trying too hard.

We eventually stepped off the plane, grabbed our luggage, passed through Belgian customs, and exited the Brussels airport. At that point, I was hit right upside my face, arms, and legs with unexpected “summer” weather. It was not warm weather by any means but was instead chilly and rainy! Instead of being in the 80s, it was barely 50°F! A t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops might work on a fifty-degree day for those born and raised in Wisconsin or Michigan, but not for a boy who grew up in Memphis.

Here we were stepping into a new environment and the adjustment would not be a quick one. This was the beginning of things that would catch me off guard.