I finally got a GPS.
I’m probably the last person on earth to get one. But I just kept waiting for them to get cheaper until finally someone just gave me one. (That’s what pastors do, by the way. You talk about something and how much you wish you had it as an illustration, and then someone buys it for you.)
The thing I love most about my GPS is how she (my GPS is female) deals with my mistakes. Sometimes she’ll tell me to turn right, but I still miss it for some reason. I feel so bad. She told me clearly, but I was distracted or something so I messed up. But she never gets mad. All she says is, “Recalculating.” That’s it. She never says, “Why didn’t you turn? Now I have to do all of this extra work.” I’m sitting there feeling bad. It’s my fault. I’m the one who didn’t turn when she told me to. And she just recalculates and directs me there by another route.
I love that voice. It’s so forgiving, so full of grace. When she says, “Recalculating,” what I hear is, “Francis, you made a wrong turn, but I’ll get you there. Don’t worry. It’s going to take a little longer now, so be careful to listen to me next time. But I’ll get you there.”
That’s really what the Holy Spirit has done with me my whole life. I’ve taken some wrong turns. And He says to me, “Recalculating. Don’t worry. I’ll still get you there. I’m still going to form you into the man I created you to be. It’ll take a little bit longer now because you really screwed up this time. But don’t worry. I still know how to get you there.”
I hope you hear the Holy Spirit saying that to you when you’ve made a wrong turn, when you find that you’re not where you thought you’d be in your walk with the Lord.
Peter warns us about this: "For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them" (2 Pet. 2:20-21).
What the true proverb says has happened to them is this: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”
Some read this passage and think Peter is teaching that we can lose our salvation. He’s not. Peter is actually not talking about those who were saved. Look closely. He’s comparing these people to a pig. We can wash him off, Peter says, but what is he going to do? He’ll head straight back to the mud. Or he compares them to a dog. When that dog throws up, he’ll walk away from it for a while. It’s disgusting. But then the dog wanders back and thinks, “Hmmm, that looks kind of good. I’m going to lick it back up.”
A pig is still going to be a pig. It doesn’t matter if you spray him off with a hose; he’s going to walk right back into the mud. Unless his nature changes and becomes something other than a pig, he’s not going to stay away from the mud.
My fear is that we are doing this with many of the people who attend our church services. We hose them off every week by putting them in an environment where they hear the truth. They enjoy this clean environment and think, “This is great! I’m not going to sin while I’m in here because everyone is cleaning me off and keeping an eye on me. Perfect.” But what do these people do the moment they’re left alone? Straight back to the mud. Why? Because a pig goes to the mud; a dog returns to his vomit. If there’s no change on the inside, we’re just hosing mud off of pigs.
If that sounds like you, hear what God says. It’s worse for you now because you know the truth and you were hosed off for a while. What you need is not a bath but a new nature. The Bible gives you the promise of partaking in the divine nature. I’m not a pig anymore. The Bible says that I used to be a slave to sin but now I’m a slave to righteousness (Rom. 6). I’m still tempted.
Things look attractive to us and we start heading back down that path. But now there’s a struggle. Now there’s a pull that keeps you from going down that path indefinitely. Why? Because you’re not a pig anymore. Everything inside you screams out, “I can’t go back to that mud! It looks tempting, but I have to walk away from it.” That is the new nature at work within you.
Take Peter’s warning to heart. If you find yourself rolling in the mud, is it possible that you were never changed? Could it be that you were never really baptized—you simply took a bath?
Maybe you’re reading these words and there’s a struggle in your soul because you know you’ve been heading down the wrong path. The pull is so strong, but you know you can’t go down there. You’ve seen the mud for what it is.
You have a new master now. You are a slave of righteousness. Maybe you’ve been moving in the wrong direction, but I pray that you can hear the Spirit of God saying, “Recalculating. Don’t worry. I’ll still get you there. Let Me get you back on track.”
This article is an excerpt from Louie Giglio’s new book, Passion: The Bright Light of Glory, released Feb. 25.
Francis Chan is the founding pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, Calif., and is the founder of Eternity Bible College. He is also a best-selling author and currently working on a church-planting movement in the inner San Francisco.