Focus – Stepping Out in Traffic
Lt. Amanda Reardon –
I have three sons, one of whom is a two-year old. Though he is charming, he is in every way a two-year-old–with all the spunk and defiance one typically finds wrapped in those little packages. Recently, he and I were about to step into a parking lot when I reached for his hand. “No!” he protested, his small arms set rigidly at his sides, his mouth turned down in a stubborn pout.
“Wesley,” I said, “there are cars here. What do cars do?”
“Hurt you,” he muttered, as trained.
“Right, so give me your hand and you won’t get hurt.”
“No, no, no!” he shouted, this time stomping his feet and flinging his arms wildly so I couldn’t catch them. I scooped him up and carried him to the car.
Though I only wanted to keep Wesley from harm, to his mind I was limiting his freedom. Every parent knows the frustration felt when a loving act is interpreted by her child as an unkind or restrictive act. Our Father God knows this feeling well, I am sure.
Many people respond to God’s biblical instruction as a short-sighted toddler or a sullen teenager responds to his or her parents’ rules and guidelines. They seem to feel God’s motives are punitive, that his laws are rigid reminders of his power and are in place only to keep us in check. Others take a slightly gentler view, assuming that God’s motives are to test us. Our obedience to otherwise unnecessary restrictions proves our allegiance to God and our general worthiness.
Yet we know from Scripture that God wants us to have abundant, joyous life. He does not want to make us miserable. But to keep us from ‘stepping out in traffic,’ he provides guidelines for our own happiness and safety.
I’ll be specific. One of the most protested Scriptural mandates is sexual abstinence outside of marriage. Some people try to rationalize against this biblical instruction. I’ve had friends give me reasons why abstinence didn’t pertain to them, under their special circumstances. But sex outside of marriage always cheats the parties involved. It is the most private gift we have to give, and giving it to someone other than a spouse robs those involved of the beauty of saving that gift for the one and only person who should receive it. Even if that couple later marries, something is lost. God’s law is there to protect us from missing out on that magic. It is also there to protect us from disease, unwanted pregnancies, and emotional ruin.
Of course, Christians don’t only feel cheated when they refrain from doing the wrong thing. They also feel cheated when they do the right thing. Many times people are called by God to give themselves in some sort of ministry (full-time or lay service), but they drag their heels because they have other plans. Or they yield to God, but with a reluctance and a feeling of grandiose sacrifice. This will step on some toes: how often has a young man or woman felt undeniably called into Salva-tion Army officership, but he or she refuses to go until he/she finds a spouse first? These would-be servants put God’s best for their lives on hold because they have their own stipulations that God hasn’t met. How much better to joyfully surrender to him, trusting that he knows our needs better than we do and will never fail to meet them!
This leads me to the most important thing I have learned in my entire Christian walk, the greatest revelation of my life: I am never sorry when I do things God’s way.
Perhaps such a statement seems too obvious. But how often do we, in real-life circumstances, think we know better than God? How often do we feel we have a wiser strategy, a better idea, or “special circumstances” that will supersede what is written in God’s word or the call he has placed on our lives?
For example, I recently became irrationally angry at my 11-year-old for some minor infraction. As I dropped him off at school, I decided to insult and berate him to get my point across. Just before the verbal venom came hissing through my teeth, verses like “Fathers, do not exasperate your children” (Eph. 6:4) and “(the tongue) is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8) ran through my head. I heard the Holy Spirit strongly urging to bite my tongue until I could behave in a reasonable manner. But I decided I knew better! I ignored biblical wisdom and relied on my supposed sagacity. As soon as the scathing words escaped my mouth, I regretted them.
If left to my own devices, I would barge ahead, this way and that, finding occasional happiness and creating frequent chaos. I have been known to step in front of oncoming cars, metaphorically speaking. But since I have learned to trust my Lord more than I trust myself, I am safe. Remember this promise: “I know the plans I have for you….plans to prosper you and not to harm you…” (Jer. 29:11) Knowing this, let us yield to him unconditionally, and we will never be sorry we did.