The satnav and answered prayers

Undated handout photo of the Rev David Clarke, elected Wednesday February 8th 2006 as the new Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. Rev Clarke, who has been minister of Terrace Row Church in Coleraine, Co Londonderry for over 20 years, is the son of a butcher, and his brother played professional football for Sunderland. See PA story ULSTER Church. PRESS ASSOCIATION photo. Photo credit should read: PA
Undated handout photo of the Rev David Clarke, elected Wednesday February 8th 2006 as the new Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. Rev Clarke, who has been minister of Terrace Row Church in Coleraine, Co Londonderry for over 20 years, is the son of a butcher, and his brother played professional football for Sunderland. See PA story ULSTER Church. PRESS ASSOCIATION photo. Photo credit should read: PA

A ‘satnav’ is now a ‘must have’ in the purchase of a new vehicle, even though stories proliferate of the errors the ‘eye in the sky’ can make.

Sometimes, of course, the error is a human one.

One such error was reported last week, from a school in East Yorkshire.

Staff at the school were astonished when a busload of Zulu performers turned up at the school gates one morning with the question ’Is this London?’ The dancing troupe, known as ‘Lions of Zululand’ were due to perform at St. Ann’s School for children with learning difficulties in West London.

Since a wrong postcode was punched into the satnav, the group ended up 200 miles away at St. Anne’s Community Special School in Welton. Having spent over three hours getting there, the group of nine dancers proved true troupers, and put on a free show.

The children, normally inattentive, were glued to the performance for an hour.

Human errors of that order aside, the modern satnav helps me hold fast to the reality of answered prayer.

We often feel that God could not possibly attend to the prayers addressed to him, let alone answer them. But that is to mistake the greatness of God. If the greatness of the ocean enables it to fill each creek and bay, might not the greatness of God enable Him to attend to our needs? Besides, if a satellite orbiting in space can give guidance to my vehicle, why should I not believe that an omnipotent creator should care intimately for his creatures?

Some decades ago, the American publisher Sam McClure was down to his last cent, and facing bankruptcy as he sought to launch a new magazine. He fell on his knees on his office floor and begged for help, and before the day was done the help had come.

An Englishman, who was a mere acquaintance, walked into his office and said, ‘McClure, I believe in you and your magazine’, and set $1,000 on the table. The Englishman was Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of ‘Sherlock Holmes’ and the $1,000 was the proceeds of an American our which he had just completed, and which, if truth be told, he could ill afford. Doyle was simply obeying a strange impulse he was feeling to take the money to McClure, although he knew nothing of the latter’s immediate need. Both men was later to verify the story independently, and the set it down as an astonishing example of the reality of answered prayer.