Lawrence walked once – twice – more around the car, fondling the keys in his pocket. His heart swelled with the pride of ownership. The colour, the lines and the gleam of paint and chrome, the very solidity of his purchase, were the result of hard work and hard won savings. He slid into the driver’s seat, feet feeling for the pedals while his eyes searched the appointments. He drank in the new car smell. “State of the art,” he thought, “Wait till the guys see this one.”
And there was the GPS, sitting on the dashboard. No more difficult to follow directions. No more messy maps. With this little baby he would always be in the right place at the right time!
Before driving away from the motor dealership he made sure of his mirrors, set the coordinates on the GPS, and gave a final salute to the smiling salesman.
The car felt so right, so much an extension of himself. “I think I’ll take the longer route.” He reached out and reset the coordinates on the GPS.
It was a long stretch of road with houses well spaced on either side. His exhilaration settled into contentment. There was a small sedan well ahead of him and in the far distance a vehicle carrier was approaching. He glanced at the dash clock – it was early yet. Perhaps he should pick up Jerry and give him a taste of luxury. It wouldn’t be too far out of his way. Smiling to himself he reached yet again for the GPS.
When his attention returned to the road ahead he was shocked. The sedan was right there, directly in front of him, and it was stopped, waiting to make a turn to the right. In panic he swung the wheel to the left, but too late. He clipped the rear left-hand side of the small sedan, spinning it into the right-hand lane in the face of the on-coming car carrier.
The driver of the carrier reacted immediately, braking and pulling the carrier to the side of the road, but it was too late: he ploughed into the little sedan, carrying it with him until he brought the carrier to a halt. He looked down in shocked disbelief: his front wheel was occupying the passenger space of the small car, and there was no occupant in the driver’s seat. He glanced into his rear-view mirror. A figure lay sprawled on the road some distance back from the smashed vehicle.
Lawrence stepped into the roadway. His mobile phone was at his ear. A few steps carried him first one way then the other, but he did not approach the other vehicles or the body in the road.
Police came first, closely followed by the ambulance and tow trucks. A constable approached Lawrence while the carrier driver was assisted from the far side of his vehicle.
“Can you tell me what happened?”
Lawrence shook his head. “Not really. She didn’t slow down, she didn’t indicate, she just stopped. I don’t know ...”
His voice tailed off. The constable looked back at the remains of the small car, uselessly flashing indicators contradicting this statement.
“I have no more to say. My lawyer is on his way.”
After a careful and thorough investigation Lawrence was proved to be the driver at fault. He lost his car. He lost his licence. A woman lost her life.
The Global Positioning System was not at fault. The new vehicle was not at fault. The fault lay with the inattention of the driver. Instead of concentrating on the conditions of the road he allowed his attention to be diverted to first the new car, and then to the GPS. The system that was designed to keep a driver from taking a wrong turn, or entering a dead end road, failed because of a man’s pride of possession.
This story – fiction but based on a factual incident – reminds me of another man who came to a ‘dead end’ in his life: in a fit of jealousy Cain murdered his brother Abel. After receiving his sentence from God he protested, “My punishment is greater than I can bear.” (Genesis 4:13) He reaped what he sowed. We have a spiritual GPS: the Scripture. I would encourage everyone to learn the coordinates of the Word thoroughly, and employ them every day. This is the best way to avoid coming to a dead end.
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