Early one morning I hopped in my car and inserted the key in the ignition. When I cranked it—I kid you not—the car made the sound: “Ugh.”
So I figured it was just the weather, and I pulled out the jumper cables. But two days later, the car sang the second verse of the same song: “Ugghhh.”
(Photo: by Monkey Business Images via Vivozoom )
Later that day, my auto mechanic gave a simple diagnosis: I needed a new battery.
Now, I could have said: “Hey, you know, a car starting every other day isn’t so bad. It sure beats walking. I guess I don’t need a battery.”
Guess again. I bought a battery—a big one. If my vehicle runs inconsistently, it’s of little value to me. At the same time, keeping the car running reliably comes down to one thing: it costs me.
The same is true of our spiritual lives.
Tucked away among the steep sandstone formations in Israel’s Arabah Valley sits a place most visitors never see.
Timna Park’s best-known attraction is called “Solomon’s Pillars”—beautiful Nubian sandstone formations that have nothing to do with King Solomon. But they’re fun to climb. The park also features relics from Egyptian idol worship as well as interpretive signs about ancient copper mining.
But the best part of Timna Park is its least-known exhibit. Or perhaps, it’s the least-mentioned.
A full-scale replica of the Tabernacle stands in the very wilderness where Moses and the children of Israel wandered for forty years.
It is like entering a doorway to history—and viewing a picture of your salvation.
I’ll never forget the day the air conditioner went out in my car. Although summer wouldn’t officially begin for another two weeks, for me, it officially began that day.
(Photo: Sunset over Joppa, where Jonah boarded a ship to flee from God.)
The blistering Texas highway winds reminded me of Jonah, the pouting prophet who sulked in the sun with a scorching wind on his head.
There’s nothing like losing your creature comforts to put a little perspective on our priorities.
Imagine with me you have a child—and only one.
The delivery had complications, but the child lived. So you name him Nathaniel—“given of God.”
While recovering at home, you begin the ritual every three hours of feeding little Nathaniel and rocking him while he screams through fits of colic. Without missing one feeding, or letting one diaper go unchanged, or any needs unmet, you never give up because you know your child would literally die without your care.
And as Nathaniel grows, you teach him to walk, change the soiled sheets, and work hard to buy new clothes he’ll outgrow. He starts to drive and you bite your nails until he comes home. Every new stage presents a new set of sacrifices, but you never give up because you love Nathaniel.
The day he drives off to college represents a milestone in your parenting, and you stand proud of what God has made of Nathaniel.
You have no idea that things are about to change.
I read that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle played a joke on twelve of his friends. He sent them each identical telegrams that read: “Flee! All is discovered!” Just four words. But within 24 hours, all 12 fled the country.
(Photo: Design Pics, via Vivozoom)
What Conan Doyle did in jest, God does to us in all seriousness.
The Lord will use situations to awaken ignored or unresolved guilt, testing our willingness to come clean and clear a guilty conscience.
Are you willing? Here’s how.
One of my daughters used to come to me as a toddler and say, “In the air, Daddy, in the air!” She wanted me to hurl her up and catch her. I did so to her utter delight. My other daughter saw this and asked me to toss her too. Yet as she leveled off, her face contorted into sheer terror.
When I caught her, she clung to me with all four limbs and begged, “No, not again!”
Later I considered why the same flight gave joy to one and terrorized the other.
- One focused on my ability to catch her.
- The other focused on her inability to control the flight.
We do the same thing with God.
Sometimes fear keeps us from enjoying what God has promised. We want so badly to have faith in what the Lord says. But fear of what we see seems more compelling than mere words.
Gideon longed to believe God. But the enemy army before him was enormous.
It was almost as large as the fears we face today.
If Jesus told us He had a criticism for us, we’d pull out our checklist and start down it.
- “Should I go on a mission trip, Lord?”
- “Should I pray more?”
- “Maybe memorize the book of Romans?”
“You just name it, Lord, and I’ll do it!”
I have discovered that slips in our relationship with God never start with the big things. They begin with the basics.
We would never consider waffling in our morality or our theology.
And yet, how often we betray a more basic element.
Life gets fueled on dreams. Without big dreams or a purpose, we wither and die. As Christians, we have more to do than get up, work hard, and come home for a few hours of television . . . only to rise and begin again.
If that’s all we do, we will wake up at age 65 and realize life has amounted to a stack of paychecks and a few laughs.
God wants more for us than that.
What did your pastor preach on Sunday? If you’re like me, you often draw a blank when asked this question.
It’s not because my pastor is boring. Or because his theology is lame. Or because I fail to hear.
It’s likely because I approach the sermon the wrong way as a listener.