I Pulled Over.
A couple of weeks ago, I traveled with my family to Silverton, Colorado. Along the way, the road crosses two beautiful, high mountain passes. Because it was early in the spring, snow still covered the scenic pullouts. Spring in the mountains assails visitors with unmistakable beauty. It was one of those days: family, mountains, amazing views. Can it get any better?
As we rounded one corner headed up the mountain, I noticed a car stopped along the downhill side of the road. Unusually for the road, along that segment, and on the uphill side, a gentle meadow sloped gently upward from the right of way for about one hundred yards. There was room to pull over. I usually don’t.
That day, God’s Spirit suddenly grasped my attention. Just beyond where the car was parked, a national forest road snaked upward on the same side. It offered just enough room for me to slow and make a U-turn. I knew God was calling.
I pulled over. For the record, I make even small trips with everything but the kitchen sink packed in the car. You never know what will happen. I drive used cars. …Get the picture.
The driver, Amber, was college-aged. She was heading home to visit parents when her right front tire blew out. What had caught my eye was the driver, her, leaning over the hood of the car staring at a cell phone, just like she was reading instructions. She was. She had never changed a tire.
Her spare was almost flat, too. Of course, I travel with a small compressor. So, we aired it up. Also, the lug nuts on the tire had never been loosened since the tire had been mounted. It was completely bald; I mean smooth, really smooth. So, it had been mounted for a long time. Those lug nuts were incredibly stuck.
The trip was part of a first family outing with one of my daughters and her new boyfriend from college. It became a bonding experience. He and I struggled to free the shredded tire. In the soft spring dirt of the right of way, the car shifted and smashed the jack. Her tire iron was damaged, too. Of course, I also travel with spares of those. So, the new boyfriend and I hauled them out and kept working. It was a chore, no easy job.
Why am I telling you all of this? Amber became very receptive to conversation. She called her parents and gave them a play-by-play of our efforts and progress. My wife and daughters engaged her in conversation while we worked. It took a while. The time allowed rapport to grow.
At the end, we loaded her shredded tire into her trunk and sent her along her way. But, I did something before we departed. I told her who I was, a Christian, Baptist Pastor. I gave her a tract. I share the Gospel with her. She took it, and was genuinely appreciative.
All of this was outside my normal boundaries. I don’t engage strangers easily. But, I’ve surrendered to God’s callings. And, he called me to pull over.
I don’t know what pulling over means for you. But, it may mean changing what you’re doing at a strange and inconvenient moment. It may happen in an inconvenient place. Yet, when I think of all that I had that we needed, I can’t help but recall that God has provided every saint with everything needed for life and godliness. So, we can obey in any situation. We’re usable, not because of our skills and abilities, but because of who wants to use us.
As you consider crossing the lines of your life boundaries into places and opportunities God is calling you. Consider more than the opportunity. Consider who’s calling. If He wants to use you, He’s already arranged everything to work out just right.
It’s difficult to describe the soaring feeling I experience every time I revisit my memories of that afternoon. There was more that made it perfect than family, mountains, and amazing view. It was God along the way. I hope you’ll let that make you soar, too. I’m certainly glad I pulled over.
As a college student, I traveled with the Continental Singers and Orchestra (a Christian ministry organization) across the United States and through Switzerland, Austria, and Hungary. During those days, eastern Europe was controlled by the old U.S.S.R. I grew during that tour in surprising ways.
At the end of our European journey, God spoke directly to us (that’s another story!). The message was clear: “I have brought you here to change you; you will never be the same.” It was a spiritual message that described how God had altered our lives while working among us.
Change closely follows those who draw close to and seek God. Occasionally, we resist change. Yet, I’m glad God changed my eternal destination. I’m glad He changed the core of who I am. I’m glad God changed who lives in me. When God works, embrace His change. The outcome usually transforms you and your world!
The Greatest of Quests...
God's will entices the faithful toward its discovery. Seekers desire not only His presence, but also His will and His ways. Our earnest peering upon His majesty seeks both His face and His heart. We're not looking for the surface of God, for a reflection of sorts or for an image, but for all of Him. Make no mistake, the longing of a follower for God's direction is a deep yearning. In one's moments of greatest decision, the thirst for His clear revelation, His guidance, feels nearly unquenchable. Locating the center of His will represents the greatest of quests. And, every journey there varies.
The revelation of God's will may burst into one's life like a shooting star, stark and clear against the dark background of the sky, sudden and bold in its appearance, and unmistakeable. At other times, it better resembles the opening of a bud, mundane in its first appearance and unremarkable. But, slowly, it opens. Its grandeur appears at a different pace, delightful in its own right, but far less dramatic. It reveals petal after petal at a subdued rate. All is not visible, initially, its final form not immediately apparent. First, it parades it's color, then gradually displays its extraordinary shape. Once fully unfolded, one marvels at what has just occurred. In either case, followers bask in the lingering majesty of God's movement as they internally replay, over and over, how He spoke to them.
The process by which all of this occurs is remarkable, stunning in itself. I can wish for either. But, God (not I) chooses how He unfolds His plans. He uniquely crafts His revelation to His own purposes and His own glory. I am left to observe, marvel, then obey. Traveling such a path falls to me as a privilege. What wonder God grants me to gaze upon such things. What honor He bestows when He carves out space in His workings to include me, however He does it.
"Almighty God, in wonder and amazement we consider what it means to be included by you... in anything. Thank You for cracking the curtains of heaven and allowing rays of Your glory fall upon us. We enter their pools of light to please You. They transform our lives. Sharpen our vision to see when they fall nearby. Move us always within their boundaries."
Crossing the Lines
The ideas behind this blog emerged from my study and preaching of a message I titled "A Single Step." It was an unexpected message out of Philippians 2:12-18. I'm the one who was surprised. I had a whole different idea of where the sermon would go. Then, I got into the text and followed it. That led, eventually, to the response by individuals after the message. God worked in me and in our congregation. He's still at work.
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