Before I take Chris back to his group home after his weekly home visit, we always eat at a restaurant. It can be a simple hamburger eaten in the car as we sit by railroad tracks waiting for a train to pass, or going in to a restaurant to have a ‘sit down’ meal. This particular day he wanted to eat inside at Braum’s, a regional chain of hamburger and ice cream stores, as he was in the mood for (fried, boneless) ‘chicken strips’ and a chocolate milk shake.
He likes a corner table which is easy for his wheelchair to roll under and has a nice view of people in their cars in the drive-thru area. Chris is 37 physically but due to brain damage at birth, the cord wrapped around his neck in a slip knot, he is about 4 years old mentally. As a result he is the most friendly 4 year old in a 37 year old’s body you’d ever hope to meet, has never met a stranger, and keeps a running commentary going about cars, trains, people, dogs, and anything or anyone else who crosses our path.
As we sat in the corner and speculated what the people in their cars in the drive-thru window were ordering and where they were going, I noticed in the background noise of all the commotion inside the place, someone’s car alarm going off in the parking lot. I figured it would turn off after 30 seconds or so as they tend to do, but this one kept going – it was one of those alarms that honks the horn every second and a half or so, but it being outside as I said, was just background noise.
As the horn continued I thought to myself, “Must be some older couple hard of hearing or something, not realizing their car alarm is going off. I should try to find who owns it.” as I scanned the seating area and noticed I was the youngest of the customers other than Chris. But then Chris asked something about another car in the drive-thru, and we speculated about what they were ordering, where they were going, what kind of car they were driving – and still, that noise was in the background. I thought I really needed to find that old person and tell them their alarm is going off.
That was when I craned my neck enough to study the parking lot in detail to see where the car was located that was making all the racket, only to discover it was my car! I was the old geezer who was clueless his car alarm was going off! My hand quickly dove to my left pocket where even on the outside, I could feel the key fob and some coins I had gotten from paying for the meal, and when I sat down and the pockets tightened a coin had been pressed over the alarm button – it was me that whole time!
The annoying Holy Spirit ‘car alarm’
The Lord tries to grow us from the inside out, for Christ is in us, the hope of glory. His voice is like that car alarm going off, background noise, floating up from our spirit man to the back of our mind like a suggestion – soft, gentle, as an idea from ‘out of the blue’ – yet He is always there until we either shove that voice so far into the background by sheer determination to hear other voices we barely hear His, or we deal with the issue He brings up.
Haven’t you ever noticed when let’s say, you have an urgent bill to pay over here, He is instead dealing with your heart about sister or brother so and so over there? If you’re like me you’ve thought, “Yes Lord, I know I need to love them, but could we talk about this bill instead?” LOL
We’ve each experienced that just before we made the decision to believe on Jesus – do you remember? After you heard of Jesus you couldn’t get Him out of your mind; the question of what you’re going to do ‘about Him’ was always in the background. No matter how life distracted you, when your mind shifted to neutral or ‘quiet mode’, there was the question about Jesus floating into your consciousness. That is how He works. That is His ‘car alarm’ inside each of us until we either shut Him up by layering our time and attention with the distractions or numbing things of life, or we decide to listen to Him and decide for Him thereby entering into what He has for us.
There is a song in Margaret Becker’s ‘Falling Forward’ album (1998) titled ‘Clay and Water’ that include these lyrics: “I am clay and I am water, falling forward in this order, while the world spins round so fast, slowly I’m becoming who I am. Nothing ever stays the same, the wheel will always turn. I feel the fire in the change, but somehow it doesn’t burn. Like a beggar blessed, I stumble in the grace, reaching out my hand for what awaits…” We may stumble, but if the heart sets itself, you are becoming who you are in a life-long process. His judgement, His righteousness doesn’t burn if we deal with our heart quickly.
Coming to the core
Some of us are seasoned citizens who have lived long enough to have experienced the various charismatic and evangelical ups and downs, from favorite ministers falling from grace to following the current fad doctrine to church hopping. Some of us have experienced people who think they are the Holy Spirit, needing to point out everyone’s error and sin though they never turn the finger of accusation on themselves. We’ve seen it all, or most of it. Seasoned citizens have enough time and mileage under their feet to have at least tasted some imbalance, or maybe even were part of some of that imbalance for a time before the Lord brought them back to balance.
At some point most realize all of that is just ‘fluff’, distraction, immaturity, and has nothing to do with Christ in them, it’s just spiritual busy-ness masquerading as spiritual growth and maturity. At first they are confused by their lack of interest in the latest ‘outpouring’ or debates ranging from flat earth to pre-tribulation rapture and everything in between, and wonder what is wrong with them. In the past they would have jumped on the loudest and most spectacular spiritual band wagon that was tooting its horn. But now all they want is something real. To really know God. Nothing else satisfies. They want the effect of righteousness in them, they want to know the ways of righteousness.
They ‘wise up’ and realize the core of what they are really looking for – they want to know the Father and the Lord Jesus. They want to fellowship with the Holy Spirit. They want to grow in love, joy, peace, gentleness, long-suffering, meekness, godliness, consistency, moral excellence, brotherly love, agape’ love. They want to be complete and lack nothing in Christ. They want relevant spiritual life. They want genuine friends who won’t dump them if they change churches or happen to offend them once or twice.
You are moving in one of these directions – which one?
“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and won’t come into the light for fear their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light so that they may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” John 3:19-21 To stay the same means staying in darkness. Move forward, race to the judgement, run to the light.
Becoming who you are – I close with this
From my formative years my heart was confirmed in seeking righteousness first and foremost in part by things like Nancy Honeytree’s ‘Evergreen’ album (1975), which I have on my phone and computer play list, and still listen to frequently. The song ‘Searchlight’ contains these lyrics: “Searchlight, turn your beam on me when I’m not what I seem to be. When darkness creeps in, turn your light on my sin, Oh searchlight, turn your beam on me. Jesus, when my life is done, and you call me to your throne. How I long to hear you say, on that resurrection day, Oh well done my child, welcome home! Welcome home child.”
The ways of righteousness is a process, and is best aided by looking at it long term. The Father and Lord invested in us for eternity. Ephesians 2:7 says He will continued to show His grace and kindness to us in Christ ‘in the ages to come’. Deal with issues He brings up on the inside, and correct, learn from the mistake, and move on. Don’t stop your progress by wallowing in the dirt. Allow the work of righteousness in you to have its way. Set growing in Him is your #1 goal, so conform your emotions, decisions, and actions to what He would have you think, feel, and do. The reward of righteousness is peace. Ahhhh.
New subject next week. Blessings,