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Car Troubles

I’m not particularly knowledgeable about cars. When a warning light goes on, I usually have to look in the manual to discover what it means, and until I do, I worry that that light might mean thousands of dollars of repairs.

Sometimes I delay looking up the meaning of a light  or I look it up and am none the wiser. Then I start to wonder if my car is going to spontaneously combust or if the engine will fall out of the engine compartment or if all four of my tires will blow out as I go around a sharp turn on Turnbull Canyon Road. 

Sometimes its not a dashboard light that warns me that something's not right but a strange sound—a banging or grinding sound—or an acrid burning smell.

In any case, isn't it uncomfortable not knowing what's wrong with your car? I suppose if you're familiar with cars, noises and smells don’t worry you so much because you know what they mean and how to fix them. You’re confident in your knowledge.

I think the care of our souls is similar. Everyday we get little warning signs that something isn’t working. We get so mad whenever someone parks in front of our house. We find ourselves constantly remembering something shameful or hurtful. We can never settle down and rest because we feel guilty. We find it difficult to listen whenever a certain person preaches. We allow ourselves to be walked upon again and again when we know it’s not right . . . squeaks and foul smells from our cars. That's what they are.

Introspective people seem to have an advantage here because they’re used to examining themselves. They’re more familiar with what the bad attitudes and knee-jerk reactions might mean. But I don't think the less introspective people are handicapped. See, if you know the Maker of Souls and trust him, odd noises and smells needn’t worry you so much. You know that he knows how to fix them. You’re confident in his knowledge. You need only surrender to him.

"Lord, something is wrong. I admit I'm part of the problem but I’m not sure how. I don’t know what’s wrong or how to fix it. Can you show me?"

And the Lord is no tardy or dishonest mechanic. He'll show us where these signs of malfunction are rooted . . . usually they're rooted in some part of our lives where Christ is not king yet, where God has yet to replace our rusty, malfunctioning parts with the fully functional life of Christ.

So why don’t we call the Master Mechanic more often? Shouldn’t the Christian life be a lot easier than we’re making it? 

I think we fail to call on God because we either don't think there's a real problem, we think it's someone else's fault, or we think someone other than God can fix us. This includes believing we can fix ourselves with a new strategy, another book or exercise or discipline.

But Jesus says, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead! You’re not in the driver’s seat—I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, the real you.” (Luke 9:23-24 MSG).

I used to think that self-sacrifice meant I had to ignore myself, not give myself things I wanted. But I don’t think that anymore. I think it means sacrificing the many ways we handle life without God, the ways we cope with annoying people, the ways we try to prove to other and ourselves that we're good, the ways we try to make ourselves happy or safe, the ways we try to deal with our shame or anger or hurt or resentment, and the way we deal with other people’s mistakes and anger and hurt. Give up trying to do life on our own. Sacrifice self-reliance, self-loathing, self-starting, self-centeredness, self-fulfilling, self-everything.

After all: “. . . the great triumph is not in your authority over evil, but in God’s authority over you and presence in you. Not what you do for God but what God does for you—that’s the agenda for rejoicing.” (Luke 10:19-20 MSG)

It doesn’t take much to allow God to do the work, just an opening of our hands. And yet to open our hands means to let go of all we're holding onto so tightly.


WOW! Again, WOW!

Thank you, Abigail.
Justin Francis said…
This is really good. Really appreciate the Message translation of that verse at the end. Thank you for this blessing.

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