Pastor’s pondering

            I’ve put several hundred miles on my car this week, driving to meetings and events in various parts of the state.  It sort of reminded me of my former days as a regional sales manager, traveling here and there to see customers.  Yet, it also quickly reminded me of how much I disliked all that traveling.  Don’t get me wrong, driving is soothing to me.  Sitting in the seat, listening to the radio, talking to God, and seeing the beauty of creation around me all brings me a sense of peace. That is, until I encounter the heavy traffic of urbanized areas and the flash of the dreaded warning light on the dashboard.

            Monday I had an early afternoon lunch meeting, for which I left in the early AM in order to make a casual stop along the way for some light Christmas shopping.  I had plenty of time, or so I thought.  My planned stop was only a thirty minute drive from my destination.  That is, until my GPS got the notification that the interstate was shut down and I had to take a new route.  And the new route?  Well, it took me so far out and around that my thirty minute trip ended up being closer to an hour!

            Then, after the meeting was over and I had an approximate two hour drive home, as I was going through the heavy city traffic, and nonetheless a construction zone, that pesky yellow warning light popped up on my dashboard – low tire pressure.  There was no way I could do anything.  As far as I knew the nearest place I could stop to do something about it was at least 45 minutes away.  So, I drudged on, with that light continually blaring in the lower part of my vision, causing all sorts of distress to well up within me.  Heavy traffic congestion, hours from home, and a car that wanted to start acting up.  Not the way I wanted to spend my day.

            Finally, I got to a place where I could air up the tire and continued my drive home, arriving nearly an hour later than I had originally planned.  I was exhausted, but unable to rest because I was so stirred up from what had taken place.  Eventually, I did get some sleep, but awoke the next morning to the saga continuing.  As I left my house to go about the next day’s activities, that pesky tire pressure light came on again.  I stopped at the nearest gas station to discover that not only was it low, it was nearly completely flat!  Yet, I had no time to deal with a flat tire, so I pumped it up and continued on my way.

            The next morning, Wednesday, believe it or not, the same thing – that tire pressure light and a nearly flat tire.  But, again, in my mind, I didn’t have time for that, so I pumped it up and continued on.  Eventually, over the course of that day, I had to put air in that tire at least three times in order to continue my journey.  At the time, it seemed like the quickest, easiest thing to do.  I had places to go, things to do, and I didn’t have a moment to spare in pulling the donut out of the trunk until I could get the tire repaired!  On my way home Wednesday night, I stopped at three different gas stations along my route to try and fill the air in the tire, but none of their pumps worked.  Good grief would the troubles never end!  I just wanted to get home.  (Finally, a fourth station did have an air pump that worked.)  Thankfully, I determined that when I awoke on Thursday, I would have to do something about that tire.  I drove to the tire shop and the promptly repaired it and I drove on to my morning appointment (to which I was only a couple of minutes late). 

As I sit and write this, reflecting upon the events of these past week, I couldn’t help but to see ridiculousness of it all.  Why didn’t I just do something about it to begin with?  Why didn’t I properly fix that which needed to be fixed instead of essentially slapping a band-aid on it and end up spending more time that I really needed to fix the situation?

I think the same can be said for our faith journey as well.  We all need air in our tires in order make the trip safely and effectively.  But, instead, we seem to spend a lot of time concentrating elsewhere, dealing with other “squirrels” instead of really focusing on what is important.  Paul’s letter to the Ephesians contains some important words in this regard, “Be careful, then, how you live…making the most of the time…do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is…be filled with the Spirit” (Eph 5:15-18, NRSVUE).  The Holy Spirit is the air in our spiritual tires, for the Holy Spirit is the very breath of God, the very breath which gave us life from the start of Creation.  We can get nowhere without this divine presence, for without the Spirit at work in our lives, we will constantly be at work trying to fix things ourselves, trying to do things our way.  The Holy Spirit helps us overcome that, fills us with the presence of God, and enables us to make the most of our time – time meant for Kingdom living.

So, I suppose the real question for all of us today is – are you full of the Holy Spirit?  Have you allowed this divine presence to equip you for the travels ahead?

                                                            Always pondering,

                                                            Pastor Steve

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