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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Driving With Jesus

Driving the speed limit may not be a big deal for you, but for me it's MAJOR. I've had issues in the past with speeding. I'm not crazy wreckless but I would say I have a problem obeying the limit. I NEVER speed in residential areas but if you were to catch me on open road (where I live there are quite a few near farmlands) or a freeway, odds would be that I'd be travelling at least 10 MPH over the speed limit.

For years I had absolutely no conviction about this speeding. I was totally fine with it. I avoided putting a church sticker on my vehicle like the plague so as to not cast a shadow on the church's reputation and went on my merry, obstinate way.

Then, one night a few years ago, the Lord tested me in this.

I was driving home from a women's Bible study and was on the last major street before turning into our neighborhood. The street was under construction and the cones were up with those annoying 25 MPH roadsigns in place of the usual 45 MPH ones.

I had every intention of going much faster than the posted limit, mainly because the road was finished being paved and was only waiting to have the stripes painted on. There were no workers out and no cars oncoming. All was clear. I owned the place, baby.

I was just starting to get up to my comfort speed when the Holy Spirit impressed it upon my heart that I needed to slow down.

I took my foot off the gas and waited for the car to slow. Each notch the speedometer fell exacerbated the feeling that I could get out of the car and crawl faster. For some reason I really felt myself rebelling against going that 25 MPH. Surely 30 was close enough?

You have to know the kind of person I am. I'm a total rule follower by nature. I'm a pretty compliant person. I generally have a ton respect for authority. I am also a person who has a strong moral compass. I clearly understand right from wrong. In fact, I'm often times a person who the Lord will call upon to gently speak truth to others who might have a hard time seeing the difference between right and wrong in various circumstances.

So, I knew at that point that what I was doing in speeding was sin. Holy Spirit was asking me to do something and I was refusing to do it. S-I-N. Period.

The hang up for me now was that cars had come up, seemingly out of nowhere, behind me. They were crowing in together, anxious to have me move faster. I was acutely aware that my obedience would be slowing others down, that they would be inconvenienced by it, that they might even dislike me because of it. (Feel free to analyze away about the deeper significance of those issues)

In response to the peer pressure I sorta half "obeyed" by keeping the pace at 30 MPH. Of course there's no way to be halfway obedient. It's all or nothing.

I failed the test.

As crumby as I felt about failing the test, soon I forgot about it completely. Until, yesterday.

I was driving to meet my sister, my mom, and a beloved friend I've known since I was in high school for the afternoon. I decided to use the 40 minute drive to spend some time worshipping Jesus. I turned up the praise music and began singing my heart out.

I hadn't travelled far down the freeway when I felt the Lord impressing it upon my heart to drive the speed limit. I immediately slowed down. It took work to maintain the speed limit because I'm naturally more comfortable driving faster (It's weird, I know) and things don't "feel right" to me when I go the speed limit. It literally feels to me like I'm inching along.

But, I managed to do well. I even remained at the speed limit when the freeway dropped down to 45 MPH in one section.

That was easy to do because the whole time no one had been driving behind me. For some reason, there had been no traffic behind me the whole way to this point and the traffic in front of my this day had all been traveling the speed limit too. Good thing, because I would have been tempted to keep pace with them had they gone faster.

Thirty five minutes into my drive and I'm almost to my destination. The sky is blue, huge fluffy clouds look like freshly bleached cotton balls, the entire desert is in bloom and the mountains are more colorful than I've seen in years. I'm thanking God and doing the speed limit.

Life doesn't get much better than that.

Until, I saw them.

Traffic cones. And a dreaded 30 MPH signs looming ahead. (Who would makes people drive 30 MPH on a WIDE open freeway? It's torture, I tell you!)

A quick check in the rear view mirror revealed the closest car many miles back from my rear. I took my foot off the gas. It didn't take long for my beastly SUV to make the adjustment. I was just about 5-7 MPH withing the target when I decided to glance in the rear view mirror once again.

Dang if that blue car hadn't caught up with me already. It was just about to approach my tailgating discomfort zone.

If you could have understood what was going on in my mind I'm fairly confident you would have been laughing at me. Picture me gritting my teeth and praying with all my heart, "I can do this! I WILL obey you Jesus.... I'm not going to look in my rear view mirror again. I'm just going to look at the road and the speedometer."

Oh, in that moment a battle was raging! I'm thankful temptation isn't the same as sin. Lord knows I was so tempted to slam my foot on that gas pedal and tear out of there. But then, despite my best efforts, I checked the rear view mirror once more.

What did I see? That blue car had backed off at least 50 feet.

And guess what else? There was a line of about 10 cars pressing hard behind that blue car, willing it to move faster.

Do you know I broke down in tears? I couldn't see them with my eyes, but I'm pretty sure angels were holding that blue car back for me. I was so humbled and full of praises. God knew how much I was struggling and made a way for me to be able to obey.

Two things I'm taking away from this seemingly mundane drive to my lunch date.

1) God is always the impetus for our obedience. We were dead in our sins until He made us alive in Christ. It's His mercy that enables us to obey Him in the first place. If I need help I can call on His grace and mercy anytime, because He's rooting for me. He wants me to obey as much as I want to obey, and will make a way for me. 1 Cor 10:13

2) This event made me consider deeply leaders in the Church. I'm thankful for leaders of our faith who are willing to step out and hold back the waves of opposition for those of us who are weaker and need the help. I think all of us will need the help of another at one time or another in many different ways. I pray that by Jesus name and the Power of the Holy Spirit I can one day be used of God to be that kind of help for another. For now, I'm just thankful someone else stood their ground against the pressure of the masses.

So now that I've shared my story I wonder how many of you out there might have a similar experience? Either struggling with temptation and finding the Lord provided you with a way out, or doing a seemingly mundane task only to find God was waiting there to teach you a major spiritual lesson.... Please share! I'd love to hear.

In closing I'm going to leave you with the most chees-tastic song ever. When my sister and I were kids there were many a Sunday we were treated to our music minister's wife singing an ear piercing falsetto rendition of this song. (The woman used vibrato like an assault weapon, I tell you!)

I was in danger of forgetting about it completely when it came to mind during the writing of this post. Today, I find a new affection for this little gem. (Especially in an octave that doesn't make my ears bleed)

Enjoy! ;-)