Commentary and Analysis from a Biblical Perspective (if the mainstream media won't touch it, somebody has to!)
Thursday, May 28, 2009
What God Told Me on the Way to Work Today
...okay, not really. At least, not in the way all you closet continuationists were hoping for. But that title sure got your attention, didn't it?
(Lunchtime and I'm already home from work...don't you all wish you had my job? Before you start secretly envying me, know that I have already driven 124 miles today. All things considered, it's pretty sweet, though. They pay me to talk. That's hilarious!)
Actually, He did show me something - which directly built on the frustration I shared in my last post about not feeling free in worship. And comparing myself to the hand-raisers, all the while wondering if bathing suits are too carnal.
About a mile from the hospital district in Boston where I work, an ambulance comes screeching through the 3-lanes of bumper to bumper congested traffic. As I pull over to the median, I happen to notice the woman driving the truck to my right - she's engaged in a passionately animated monologue....there's no one else in the car. She was praying. And I mean, really praying. Trying to stare without being obvious about it, it occurred to me she must have been praying for the person in the ambulance as her outpouring began quite spontaneously.
This woman really looked like she was worshiping - but she wasn't singing. There was no rhythm. She bobbed her head Stevie-Wonder style a few times, with her eyes closed, and she had that slightly-in-pain countenance typical of charismatics when they pray.When the light changed, cars behind her started beeping (one is oblivious to green lights when one's eyes are closed). Still watching her in the rear view mirror, I noticed she finally did pull up and go through the light - still praying out loud. Not a single fish or JesuChristo bumper sticker on her nondescript truck, either (I checked). Just a few rust stains.
I am not making this up.
So I start reflecting on this scene and why it struck me so much. I don't know how it is in the Bible Belt, but that is not something you see everyday in Beantown (especially during the height of the commuter hour!) She convicted and inspired me at the same time, if such a thing is possible. From all appearances, she was overflowing with reverent praise to the God of All Compassion, presumably interceding for a complete stranger in peril. As many have noted, the more focused we are on God and others, the less focused we will be on ourselves. I wonder why I struggle to worship sometimes, but I considered what the meditation of my heart had been at exactly the moment before I spotted this lady.
The radio was off, a rarity for me. I quickly tired of Audio Adrenaline and decided to pray instead. Fresh from reflections of God's sovereignty at last night's Bible study, (yes, I finally did read the chapters), I let go of the "What If's" in my life as per Linda Dillow's suggestion. I considered how I'd react if the Mission's Committee rejects my proposal to support a church in Bulgaria ("It's Your call, God"), and realized if my book is not picked up by a publisher, I will not be devastated - it can still be uploaded online. "The whole purpose in writing it is to help others, not get rich". (See how spiritual I am? I won't even be disappointed if my "plans to be faithful to God's calling" don't work out the way I'd planned.) That's mighty big of me, deciding to let God be sovereign, wouldn't you say?
One of the dangers of being a highly productive person is that you unintentionally equate "producing" in your spiritual life with being close to God. And then you have the nerve to be surprised when you don't feel that intimacy with Him that fuels true worship.
When that ambulance passed, siren blaring, I confess it never entered my brain for a nanosecond to offer up prayer for the victim. Praise God just for Who He is, because He is worthy? Didn't cross my mind. If anything, I might have felt a momentary flash of frustration at missing the light and having to wait (even though I was early for my patient's appointment). That's when I saw her, and the difference between my heart attitude and hers was in-my-face obvious (even though I don't know this lady from Adam). That's so typical of how God reveals lessons He wants me to learn - privately, and without public humiliation.
Once again, I'm flattered He was paying attention and humbled by His gentle correction. It's so cool how He helps His children to offer Him the kind of praise of which He's due. The music isn't the point - the desire and motivation behind authentic worship is what counts, and He generates it in a humble and grateful heart.
I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.