We drove up to Bela Bela (formerly Warmbaths) on Tuesday evening to join the South African Shluchim Conference. We dodged the M1 parking lot and snaked along the Old Pretoria Rd. and back on to the N1 Polokwane. Most of the journey was straight forward and our directions indicated we should take the "Settlers" turnoff. Once off the highway, we traveled down a potholed country road, swallowed by the inky night.
We must have driven for twenty minutes without finding the T-junction that our map showed as being five minutes away. Seeing as the "straight-forward" directions were not so straight forward, we pulled out the GPS to guide us. "Turn right" it announced, we veered into a tiny rural suburb (the single-pump petrol station had closed by eight, which wasn't very reassuring). Through the suburb, "turn right", onto a country road "turn right". Our GPS had taken us on the lengthiest U-turn imaginable.
Our map had suggested we were only 30km from our destination, the GPS warned it would take an hour to get there. We began to wonder if the GPS knew what it was doing. A quick vote in the car revealed that we would trust the GPS.
Our headlights lit a narrow section of the endless road as we wondered if the GPS might take us to Botswana. But, we soon drove through the town of Bela Bela and found the gravel road that lead to the lodge we were staying at. We arrived at the precise time the GPS had indicated.
Driving home, we decided to let the GPS guide us out to the highway. Soon enough, we were back in that little town and following the logical path back to the highway. Again, the GPS concocted a convoluted route, which we followed, knowing it would include a "three right turns" stunt. I guess our GPS has spiritual leanings; it took us right past the old kosher butchery, a remnant of Warmbaths' thriving Jewish community. The "slaghuis" has a pig painted on the facade, but stil retains the "Kosher" signs from the old days.
As we neared Pretoria, the traffic thickened again and we were tipped off that there would be major delays. GPS came to the rescue again, suggesting an alternative route that slipped us past the gridlock, through back suburbs and back onto the free-flowing highway.
We often think we know the best routes to take in life- how to make money, what will bring us happiness, how to raise wholesome children. You can easily get lost on the road of life and land up at a destination that looks nothing like where you wanted to be. Pull out your GPS- your G-d positioning system. Hashem knows the routes, the shortcuts and the places of interest that get you home safely. You only need to follow His prompts.