“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers (Galatians 6:7-10).”
This morning as I headed to my destination, I had the driver’s nightmare: I hit every stoplight on my route. At least this is how it was at the beginning. As I got further down the road, I did catch a couple greens.
In my frustration I thought, “There’s an analogy here somewhere.” Indeed there was.
I realized as I kept driving that just about every problem in my life today was due to my not heeding the stop lights I have encountered along my travels in life. I have run a few in my time.
When you run a traffic light, or a stop sign, several things can happen. For example, you can have a crash or the police can stop you. This latter event happened to me the other day because I had a brake bulb. Because of the delay, I was almost late for work. Thus, breaking the rules can hinder progress, or worse. (If I had gotten angry and fought the officer, I would have gone to jail!)
God had some red lights for me earlier in life, and I ran them. I went through the lights because I was either misguided in my thinking (“Hey, the light is only yellow”) or I just flat out wasn’t interested in obeying God in certain matters. I’m living with the result of my faulty decisionmaking to this day.
I’m not alone. The Bible is replete with characters who took their chariots through one of God’s barriers and paid the price. Perhaps David was thinking of his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband when he wrote the following:
“O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. For your arrows have pierced me, and your hand has come down upon me. Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; my bones have no soundness because of my sin. My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly. I am bowed down and brought very low; all day long I go about mourning. My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body. I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart (Psalm 38:1-8).”
Running God’s stop signs has physical, spiritual and emotional ramifications. God does offer forgiveness. David knew this and returned to God. Still, he wrote in his repentance, ” I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin (Psalm 38:18)”. He came back to God, but he still was suffering the consequences of his transgressions.
In his suffering David also wrote,…I am about to fall, and my pain is ever with me (Psalm 38:17)”. When you feel as David did, i,e. depressed, you still aren’t thinking right. You are in pain, experiencing thoughts like “What’s the use. I might as well give up” and tempted to douse the pain with more sin.
When I feel like David, I am finally learning to say as he did,”Come quickly to help me, O Lord My Savior (Psalm 38:22)”. Instead of trying to relieve myself with sin, I am learning to run to God for help with the temptation.
I should have done this far earlier instead of going through God’s red lights and crashing. He was the good cop, riding along beside me to guide me through the signals. However, in my ignorance and rebellion I chose to not listen.
I am motivated as I write this to help young people to learn how to drive. I had mentors when I was younger, but in many cases they were “children training children”, as one wag in my Christian group liked to say. I think down deep I thought, “Who the heck are you. You sin just like me.”
That thinking was false and contributed to my traffic violations. I could and did learn much from my peers.
Still, I now wish I had connected with a middle-aged coot like me who had learned the hard lessons of life. Perhaps I would have listened to him and avoided a lot of pain.
” Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach, for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have all of them ready on your lips. So that your trust may be in the LORD, I teach you today, even you (Proverbs 22:17-19)”.
“Yes you,kid!”, I want to say. “I may look old and grizzly, but I might have something to teach you about walking with the Lord. Maybe, just maybe, I can help you not stick your head in the guillotine (Proverbs 22:3) like I did”.
The wise man of Proverbs wrote, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it (Proverbs 22:6)”. It may take an older codger like me to get through to the youngsters.
It’s worth a shot. Perhaps God will pay me back for all the lost years I brought on myself (Joel 2:25). Furthermore, maybe I will have something really worth giving my remaining energies to.
Indeed, I presume helping younger folks avoid my mistakes will reenergize me and give me back my own youth?
George Bernard Shaw wrote,”Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children.”
No, Mr. Shaw. The crime is that older people waste their middle or old age and don’t teach what they know.
I think I wanna be the Good Cop’s deputy.