As Anton Ego put it in the movie Ratatouille, "... you know what I'm craving? A little perspective. That's it. I'd like some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that?"
Saturday, January 31, 2015
iStop, Drop and Pray
iPray eVotionals exhorts those who pray. It's the glass of water held out around each month's turn for the runners who can use a quick and easy quench in order to finish strong.
iStop, Drop & Pray
Approx. reading time: 9 minutes
iSTOP, drop and pray
"Do you know why I pulled you over?"
"Yes, Mr. Cop, I know exactly why. I ran a red light. Why did I run the red light? I just want you to know that I'm a law abiding citizen, officer. I use my blinkers, drive the speed limit and most of the time I stop at red lights. Just to put your mind at ease, I always stop at the really big intersections. It is far too dangerous not to. The impact could be deadly! I would never risk my or anyone else's life by running a red light at the big intersections. To be honest, this little intersection does not have as many lanes so there was less of a chance I could get hit by cross traffic. The speed limit is lower and the road is not as busy as the street that is one block over. I didn't see any cars coming so the red light really didn't matter at that particular moment. Furthermore, I have never thought that a red light belonged at that intersection. I have my reasons for believing that. Thank you for listening to me and understanding where I am coming from. It's time for me to get on my way. Keep up the good work on getting the bad guys off the streets."
"I'm writing you a ticket for running the light, read it carefully. It will tell you what you need to do."
For some reason my seriously flawed rationale kicks in just this way when it comes to some of God's red lights at life intersections. I think that my explanation is enough for God to allow me to continue on, skip the ticket and not attend traffic school. After all, He is such a loving and understanding God, He knows where I am coming from. To top it off, I can get annoyed and resentful when I experience the consequences.
The light could be at an intersection of fear, anger, judgment, pain, stubbornness, impatience, disrespect, revenge, self-righteousness, hopelessness, depression or laziness. Sometimes the intersection feels more like being rejected, personally attacked or misunderstood. We face a choice to stop or speed through. If we ignore the light and let pain and stubbornness determine our reactions, God's spirit is not directing our paths.
An anxiety-ridden intersection can go something like this:
With three hours of sleep, email and texts are already rolling in as the sun comes up. An event taking place in less than a week, details are being missed, too much to do in too little time, family is coming into town, no food in the kitchen, the house is a mess and the dog must have eaten something bad because his diarrhea is all over the house.
God's spirit gives a red light.
STOP! You know to stop... Do not be anxious about anything! Present your request to God! Think of what is worthy of praise! STOP STOP STOP! Let me carry the burden.
Run the light and let anxiousness take over. The Holy Spirit's lights flash to pull over. Fight the ticket.
"Yes, Lord, I know why you pulled me over. I'm being anxious. I have not stopped, handed these things over to you and thought about what is worthy of praise. Now I'm feeling overwhelmed at what this day holds. I'm not a bad person though, remember every time my son was to have surgery a few years back? I trusted you Lord, prayed through that anxiousness and thought about the good You were doing. Our lives depended on my stopping at those big intersections. Compare this small intersection today to the four-lane happenings of just one street over! That person over there, he seems to worry about everything under the sun; I'm not like that! Please make sure things go well for me even through I ran the red light at this little insignificant intersection."
A good dose of traffic school, straight from God's Word, to start thinking straight! Holy Spirit hands over the ticket that says what to do.
Instead of looking at the ticket, stuff it in the pocket and add frustration to anxiety. Add stress to the frustration and anxiety, stress about daily things like cleaning up a spill, lines at the store and chronic pains. Stress affects mood. Being in a bad mood affects the treatment of who are around. Treating others poorly, with a bad attitude and with a short fuse, affects relationships and interactions. Anxiety also effects the body's immune system and how certain glands in the body release hormones so... you start to feel ill.
"God, you're not helping me out here! Take the consequences of running the red light away!"
Stop, finally look at the ticket to find out what to do, it reads, "Jesus has paid the price. Report to Philippians 4:6-8"
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Philippians 4:6-8
We should stop at every red light, spiritually speaking, because eventually we will hit or get hit from several angles. We should stop and let God direct our path.
iStop, DROP and pray
Stopping is the first step. Dropping is the next.
The other day I gave my daughter a red light when I noticed there was something we needed to address. As I was talking with her about what I really wanted her to grasp, I could see her glancing at the clock. She was waiting for the light to turn green. Eventually we finished up and I gave her the green light. Before the day was through, my daughter happened upon the same intersection and I gave her the same red light. As we talked the second time, I realized that earlier, as she was waiting for the green light, she was not really listening to me. There was a message and a lesson in the waiting. Because she did not pay attention to me, only the clock, nothing was gained.
If we do not loosen our grip in waiting and pay attention to what God is saying, we will find ourselves at more red lights than we thought existed. Our destination might be right down the street, but we will catch every red light it takes.
There are times when I sit at an intersection, my car is stopped but my mind is still going. I can be in my own little world that has not stopped at all. This is true of others as well. I have seen makeup applying, nose picking, teeth cleaning, song singing, food eating and paper grabbing. It really does not take much for someone to stop looking at the light and get honked at when it changes.
It's easy to look at a red light as an opportunity to get something done or plan on how to get something done. When God gives us a red light, it's time to drop what keeps us preoccupied and prevents us from hearing God's voice. If we are waiting at a red light, there is purpose in the waiting.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
It's also easy to grow impatient when the waiting seems too long. We might lash out with, "God, I stopped, I'm ready to go. Come on. There are no other cars waiting, why am I still sitting here?"
Sometimes God will not change the light unless He knows it is safe to proceed. If we push that peddle before God has worked out what must happen first, we will hit or be hit. Dropping is letting go of control and allowing God to have all control. Having a teachable heart and a willingness to trust God's way will always be the right way.
"The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." 2 Peter 3:9
The light could be at an intersection that can stem from a number of things: sin, heart issues, certain feelings, knowledge or perceptions just to name a few. The process of sanctification takes time and sometimes several attempts.
Dropping it all at Jesus' feet allows God to work on our hearts and His spirit to direct our paths.
"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:1-2
iStop, drop and PRAY
Stop at the light, drop what hinders you, and then connect to God through prayer.
Imagine yourself showing up to a meeting that you have spent hours getting ready for. After noticing a disconnection between department heads, your boss had asked everyone together to connect and hear about what was going on in the different parts of the company.
As you walk in, a dozen or so co-workers are getting out their lap tops and devices. You find an empty seat and do the same. As the meeting time begins nobody says a word. Instead everyone starts typing, researching, making graphs and preparing tables. One person puts on headphones and listens to music.
After 2 hours the meeting time expires, people put their things away and leave the room never having said a word. The time was spent together and they might have gotten some work done, but there wasn't any communication between the department heads.
Do you think the boss' goals for the meeting were met? I'm guessing that everyone left without learning a single thing about each other. All of them leaving in the same place as when they arrived. I'm also guessing that nothing is going to change in the company, they will continue on, disconnected.
You may never attend a silent meeting in your workplace, but this is what happens in our prayer lives when we sit at a red light in spiritual silence.
We can't expect change, growth and connection with God without praying.
Dear Lord, may we be cautious, safe and responsible at every intersection.
Teach us to STOP. May we respect your red lights. Keep our hearts from excuses. Humble us when we need to be pulled over. May Your Word set us on the right path again and again.
Teach us to DROP. May we drop what hinders us. Reveal to us the distractions that keep us from hearing You. May we know the purpose in every waiting season and turn to You for quiet moments. Give us teachable hearts so that we are not looking at the clock when we should be focused in on Your voice.
Teach us to PRAY. May we talk with you often. Lift our heads away from our books, devices, schedules and games. When we show up to Your meetings, may we be hungry to connect with praise on our lips, ready to present our requests, eager to hear from You. Place on our hearts an overwhelming desire to understand what is going on in all of Your departments so that we can stay connected and in unity. May we continue to pray towards Your green lights.