Most of you probably know that classes have resumed across the country for children of all ages. And this, of course, means back to school shopping. Hence the reason I found myself in a car with my family, speeding down the Interstate on our way to one of the local outlet malls. It was time to look for both clothing and school supplies. My wife and I had planned to spend a little bit too much money, as well as toting two tired kids around from store to store. All of that is very normal considering the circumstances. What we hadn’t counted on, however, was to be part of a large traffic jam that same day.
Two semi-trucks ended up in an accident about two miles ahead of our exit en route to the shopping mall. One was in the ditch, and the other was split in half! I’m not sure what caused it, but you can imagine the chaos that ensued thereafter. Fortunately, I don’t remember any fatalities being reported that day. We were stuck at a complete standstill for almost three hours.
During that time, people were getting out of there motionless vehicles and talking to each other, wondering if we were ever going to get to our destinations. Add to this the fact that it was almost one hundred degrees outside, and the result was miles and miles of grouchy motorists forced into gridlock. Traffic was moving freely in the opposite direction of course. I eyed each passing car with jealousy from my own motionless vehicle. One by one they drove by, gawking at us like we were animals in a zoo surrounded by plate glass windows.
It reminded me of how some people conduct themselves on the faith journey that God has assigned them. I suspect a good many people become stranded along the way, falling prey to distraction or even some garden-variety idol worship. I believe that Scripture supports the idea that we should stay active and moving when it comes to our faith. Not that we can’t have lulls or respites here and there, but for the most part, I think that an active faith requires forward momentum.
We should stay in motion while we pursue the things of God; we need to make sure our “vehicles” are in drive and not neutral. Worse yet, some have shifted their car into park ... they are at a dead standstill, completely giving up on spiritual growth. Just as the fleet of SUVs and minivans were stuck that day on the Interstate, so are those who cannot seem to be bothered with an intentional and vibrant faith.
They are stuck in traffic, content to wait until someone cleans up the accident up stream, and only then begin the slow crawl to whatever the next exit might have in store for them. Like passengers on a stranded cruise ship, as long as the food and wine keep coming, we are often content to stay on the sand bar.
Every once in a while though, someone may look up from their dashboard or smart phone to look at all the cars whizzing by at sixty miles per hour in the other lane. But before long, it’s back to shifting the vehicle into park. No growth, and no forward motion.
There are two Scriptures that I want to quote today to help illustrate this spiritual standstill. Proverbs 8:35 says, “For those who find me find life and receive favor from the Lord.” 2 Timothy 4:7 says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
Although these two passages were written years apart by two different authors, they convey basically the same sentiment. They talk about the importance of movement and motion in order to engage with God. Proverbs 8 mentions actively seeking after the Lord, and 2 Timothy 4 here talks about finishing a race. Keep seeking, and keep running the race. At any point in time, we have the ability and the calling to shift our vehicles from neutral into drive. We need not settle for being stuck in traffic and becoming spiritually stagnant.
No doubt God wants us to fully engage with Him. There are countless Scriptures asking us to follow His commandments and remain in His love. This is an active and intentional endeavor. If He is seeking after us, why not seek after Him as well?
Partner with God so as to realize the plans He has for your life — not to mention the lives of those around you. Once you start to let Him in, it can create a ripple effect not unlike throwing a pebble into a pond. If people see the Jesus inside of you, then they might be encouraged to shift their own cars into drive as well. Life is so much more than just going through the motions until we get to our next exit. If you see the ripple from across the pond, then take the time to go and see what all the fuss is about.
I want to give you one more Scripture to think about. Psalm 127:1-2 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat, for he grants sleep to those he loves.”
Let’s face it, a life without God is often an empty pursuit. Much of the time we can end up at a standstill, wondering just how much of what we have accomplished in the secular world might be in vain.
Consider instead, moving in conjunction with the Holy Spirit on a faith walk prepared especially for you by a loving God, who desires nothing more than to spend time together. Get up, get moving, and get to church. Become one of those cars speeding by from the other lane on the Interstate.