I had an interesting spiritual life lesson while driving today. Taking a side street from the post office in Brentwood to my home in Nashville, there is a stretch of road where two lanes narrow down to one. Routinely, cars get backed up in the left lane… sometimes a few, sometimes dozens. I have been known, in the past, I’m embarrassed to say, to be one of those people who will speed up in the right lane to get around more cars in the left lane and not have to wait as long. I’m type A & impatient. Places to go, things to do! Now, of course, I wouldn’t do that for just for a few cars, *that* would be obnoxious… but if it were dozens? It could happen. (Hmm… where exactly is that line when justifiably “proactive” crosses over into flat-out obnoxious?)
But tonight was different. I was on my way home, there were dozens of cars in the left lane, and I just took my place in line. “I’m not going to be one of those people,” I thought to myself, “I’m going to patiently wait in the left lane.” Then I saw a few people whiz by in the right lane and thought, “But I’m darn sure not going to let any of those jerks get in front of me!!!” My, my, how quickly moral ambiguity turns into moral superiority. Then I had a thought. “Let your gentleness be evident to all.” Gentleness is part of the fruit of the spirit, and I want that to permeate every aspect of my life! Hmm.
“So, let them in.” Wait.. where did that come from? That was definitely not my thought. Oh… Spirit, I think that’s you… but I don’t want to let those jerks in! It’s not right! It’s not fair! “It doesn’t matter, that’s what you need to do.” Sigh… fine, I’ll let them in. Really, I promise. And, with a smile on my face like a child asking for an extra piece of candy, I thought, “Maybe, since I’m agreeing to obey, you could make it so that none of them actually try to get in front of me? That way I get credit for being willing to obey without actually having to do it! Win-win!!!” Sure enough, I made it through to the single lane without any unwanted intruders. And I didn’t even realize it until further down the road! When I did, I chuckled & thanked God for grace.
Then, another nudge… “He who is faithful with little will be given more. Because you agreed to be faithful in such a small thing, I showed you favor.” The concept of faithfulness opening the door to something more doesn’t just apply to money and stewardship, it also is true of revelation and obedience. “If you are faithful with little, I can give you more. Why would I try to give you guidance in big things and put a higher call on your life if you’re not event obedient to guidance in small, everyday things?”
I smiled to myself, as that idea had just come up when talking with a friend a day or two prior. We want God to give us revelation for big momentous things, guidance in gray areas, discernment… yet we’re not even obedient to the *certain* revelation of fundamental truths & guidance in his Word! If someone flunked algebra, would you just push them on thru to calculus? Of course not. (Or, if you’re more sporty, think about promoting a sub-par JV player to Varsity.) You can’t entrust someone with greater knowledge unless & until the foundation is in place… it would be a waste of time. Yours *and* theirs! (In fact, going with the sports thing, it could be downright dangerous!)
What’s the takeaway? Listen for the promptings of the Spirit & obey! Even if the guidance is about something so small or mundane that you think it couldn’t possibly matter to God. It does. And, in humility, remember this: without Jesus, we’re all just one of those self-centered jerks whizzing by in the right lane! Thank Heaven for grace & mercy. 🙂