The very first verse I recall memorizing growing up was not one of the typical memory verses most start out with (like John 3:16).  Instead, the first verse I memorized was John 10:11.

I am the good shepherd.
The good shepherd
lays down his life for the sheep.

(John 10:11, NIV)

I learned that verse around the same time the adventure described below occurred, the time when I was ‘navigating’ my family up to where my grandparents lived.

As I was thinking about the navigating ‘test,’ as well as realizing how close the timing of that first verse was to the navigating experience, it made me think back on the context of John 10:11.  Since, if I were being honest, that particular verse isn’t one I find myself coming back to over and over, so it seemed like a God thing as far as how He connected those two things in my heart.

Looking at some of the verses preceding John 10:11, I was struck by the emphasis on the theme of voices, and the differentiation of how sheep respond to the shepherd’s voice contrasted with that of a stranger.

…the sheep recognize his voice
and come to him.

He calls his own sheep by name
and leads them out. 

After he has gathered his own flock,
he walks ahead of them,

and they follow him
because they know his voice. 

They won’t follow a stranger;
they will run from him
because they don’t know his voice.

(John 10:3b-5, NLT)

***

God has blessed me with a pretty good memory and sense of direction.  Both of those things can be a blessing and a curse.

It didn’t take long for my parents to realize I had an unusual innate ability to remember where places were or to get back to somewhere I had only been once.

A year or so after my grandparents moved out to Southern California, I brazenly convinced my parents that I could drive up to where my grandparents lived twenty or so miles away.  That was a pretty gutsy claim for someone who was only about five years old and who spent most of her car rides not wanting to waste a minute that could be spent reading – so it’s not as if I spent every drive staring out the window! Needless to say they didn’t actually allow me to drive, but I vividly recall sitting in the middle of the front seat of our old blue Buick, telling my astonished parents exactly how to get to the house.

Times like now, when I’m feeling so lousy and things take more effort than normal or there are times it seems like things they go in one ear and out the other, I’d love to be able to erase some of the useless or undesirable information my memory is storing.

For instance, still being able to find my way around Tokyo, dependent on rail signs only in Kanji, a city I only spent a few weeks in, going to places I haven’t been in two decades now just doesn’t seem like the most useful bit of information to continue to store in my brain.

tokyo subway map

The location of the best egg salad sandwiches I’ve ever had? Complete with no foreign objects in the egg salad and crust-free bread, just as egg salad sandwiches should be?  Yup, I can walk those streets in my mind as well.  Now if only I knew if that little sandwich shop in a Tokyo suburb was actually still there all these years later!

I gained a reputation with my family and friends serving as their own personal GPS system.

Until about a year ago, I never even had the option of using an actual GPS device.  Having had an archaic cell phone, there was no way to even use GPS on my dinosaur of a phone.

But when my mom and I were out at Mayo on our first trip there last year, I did use the GPS on her phone a few times when we were trying to find a particular type of store in a specific area.

The GPS on her phone was great – a rather pleasant voice, accurate directions, and no crazy convoluted routings.

Unfortunately, my phone doesn’t allow for the same GPS system to be used.  And although it’s not something I have cause to need often, twice I’ve depended on my phone’s GPS system.

Southern California has a lot of cities and street names of various origins, and many are, in part (or entirely) in Spanish. While not everyone pronounces them correctly, most at least get close or can take an accurate stab at the street names.

Trying to get between one doctor’s office and another specialist’s office a couple of months ago, we planned to stop by Sonic on the way.  If I have to go to the far side of town, taking advantage of being near the one local Sonic is a perk worth jumping on! I knew there must be a more direct way than what instinctively came to mind, so I plugged the info into the GPS on my phone to navigate for the person with me.

When the GPS said to turn left on “L – 40,” I scratched my head a bit. We’re not as big on streets with letters or numbers in their names as many other places are. Though I wasn’t in my neck of the woods, it’s still an area I am quite familiar with and I couldn’t begin to figure out what street the GPS meant.

As we drove past “El Fuerte,” I realized that relying on her voice alone we were not going to get to our destinations in an even remotely efficient manner, even with one of us being fluent in Spanish who should have taken into account possible mispronunciations because of language being butchered by a computerized voice.  With no Spanish speaking ability or exposure, or not speaking English comfortably one would have faced even greater challenges trying to discern what the GPS voice intended to convey.

Three other grossly mispronounced street names in just a few miles time made it apparent how easily one could be thrown off course as a result of depending on an unreliable or inaccurate voice.

(To be continued Sunday evening)

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