Recently in Dallas I was able to defeat my GPS. I wasn’t trying to. That was never my intent, but despite my best attempts at navigating a city that is full of 1 million U-turns, my GPS cried “Uncle.”
The lady on the machine didn’t actually say that, she’s far too polite to admit defeat, but I won. Or rather I got lost.
I shouldn’t have. Hertz has a navigation unit in rental cars called “NeverLost.” It started out that way in the morning, but by mid afternoon, the name should have been “SometimesLost.” By late afternoon, “OftenLost.” By that night? “AlwaysLost.”
I whupped that GPS, until finally I thought to myself, “The only thing this navigation system is good for is a GPS sermon illustration.”
Have you ever heard one of those? In 2009, pastors were contractually obligated to use a GPS sermon illustration. If they didn’t, they lost their mustache rights. What are those? The rights to grow a pastor mustache. Growing up, my dad (who is a pastor) always had a mustache. I just assumed you were aware of mustache rights.
Seems pretty self explanatory. I’m surprised you had to ask, given how clear that idea is. But what might not be so obvious is the GPS sermon illustration. Allow me to introduce you to:
The 3 Most Common GPS Sermon Illustrations
1. The “I wish God spoke as loudly as my GPS” illustration.
Wouldn’t that be nice? You’re going in for a job interview, and as you sit in the lobby, the voice of God says audibly, “Please proceed to the highlighted route out of this building. Travel 0.2 miles until you are no longer interviewing at this company. It’s not the right job for you.” Or as you get ready to walk down the aisle, “Please make a sharp right corner at the front of this church and continue 42 miles away from this guy. He’s not the one you’re supposed to marry.”
2. The “If you ignore the directions, you get lost” illustration.
“Last weekend, my wife and I were driving around. The GPS wanted me to go one direction, but I thought I knew better. It kept telling me to turn around, but I ignored it. I drove and drove and drove, thinking I knew best. I got lost. For hours. If I had only listened to the directions, I might have saved myself a lot of time and frustrations.” Segue to the book of Proverbs.
3. The “Grace is even better than recalculating” illustration.
When you take a wrong turn with my GPS unit, not to be confused with “G-Unit,” the lady’s voice on the system pauses for a second and then calls out loudly, “Recalculating!” That is code for “You are so dumb, so dumb, so dumb.” She very clearly told you where to go, and you made a mistake. You know she really wants to say, “Seriously? The sign for 40 east is the size of a whale shark. There were 14 arrows pointing in that direction. Were you texting and driving? Were you cheating on me with Google Maps on your phone?? Is that what this is all about?” Sometimes in sermons pastors will relate this to the times we fail and how God doesn’t react that way. Although he wants us to “u-turn,” his reaction at seeing us fail isn’t, “You blew it!”
Now a lot of people are going to tell you that this list should have one more on it, the “Sometimes God takes you off the map just like a GPS” sermon illustration. I thought about that one, I did. The reality is that sometimes if you watch your little car icon on a GPS, you’ll look up and realize, “Whoa, I’m driving in just a big field of green. This road is newer than the maps my system has in it. I’m off the grid. This is like driving in the Matrix.” But now you’re mixing illustrations. Now the Matrix is involved and that’s a whole different sermon.
Have you ever heard a GPS Sermon Illustration?