Stop When You Should… Go When You Should

Recently, I gave my fourteen-year-old daughter her first driving lesson.  I had sent her to the car after church to start it up and get the air conditioner cranked because it was very hot outside.  When her sister and I eventually got to the car, while her mother was visiting with another couple from church, I opened the passenger door and got in.  She had the radio playing and had the driver’s seat leaned back.  She started to turn everything down and sat up as her sister was getting buckled in, as if she were going to make way for me to get into the driver’s seat.  I told her to stay where she was, and she shot me one of those “Ohhhh Kayyyyy!” sort of looks when your parents do something out of the ordinary.  I could tell she was a little excited though.

With a calm and serious voice, I went over getting comfortable in the driver’s seat, adjusting and using all the mirrors, the gear shifter on an automatic car, and then last but not least… the brake pedal and the gas.  I’m sure there was a touch of fear welling up inside her because this is something she had never done herself… only watched others do to this point.  Taking a leap of faith that being behind the wheel of a running car about to make it move was going to be okay, she listened closely to my calm instruction and trusted my voice.  She knew that good ol’ Dad was very experienced and has seen a lot in his day while driving, and that she could trust his instruction.

Now you and I know that verbally teaching someone how to do something, and them experiencing it on their own are completely different learning experiences.  I could tell her about the brake and gas pedals being sensitive, but I wanted her to feel it.  She would be a better driver to get this one lesson down pat.  I had her put her foot on the brake, ease the gear shift into reverse, and slowly take her foot off the brake.  No gas, just let the car move on it’s own.  Without instruction on how to use the brake, I told her to stop the car.  She of course pressed the brake too hard and we abruptly jerked to a halt, whip-lashed by the teenager.  She looked over at me, and I said “Did you feel how sensitive it is?”  She nodded.  “When you use either the brake or the gas, you have to press them gently… brake eaassyyyy!”  She smiled and we continued our lesson.  She listened to each gentle instruction I gave her and made it through the lesson just fine.  I think she also found out that she needed me and driving is a bigger responsibility that even she thought.  She needs an experienced hand to help her through this.  Make her a driver worthy of a license.

*So the following Wednesday, our pastor was teaching a lesson on us either grieving the Holy Spirit, or quenching the Holy Spirit.  He gave an example about a car dealership offering you a brand new car for $1.  Of course we all know there would have to be some sort of catch with a deal like that, so he explained that the only thing wrong with the car was that the brake and gas pedals were both messed up.  When you pressed either one, it would either:

  • jump forward too quickly
  • delay for a while before working
  • or not doing anything at all when pressed.

How dangerous would that be driving your family around in a car with such important flaws!  He went on to say that we often are like that deficient car.  Sometimes the Holy Spirit directs us to stop what we’re doing… and we just keep going or stop in our own time. (Grieving the Holy Spirit)  Sometimes the Holy Spirit tells us to go… and we take our sweet time moving forward or we refuse to move at all.  (Quenching the Holy Spirit)  Needless to say, the Holy Spirit can get just as frustrated as we would driving in a situation like that.  The Bible warns:

  • “do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”  – Ephesians 4:30
  • “do not quench the Spirit”  – 1 Thessalonians 5:19

Jesus gave us great examples about stopping when you should, and going when you should.  Why would He wait two days to go see Lazarus, who eventually was in a tomb dead for four days?  Lazarus was His friend Mary’s brother, and He loved Lazarus, Mary and their sister Martha dearly.  He knew He could heal him of whatever was wrong… but He waited.  He waited because he knew it was the right thing to do.  He knew that waiting, even though I’m sure He wanted to swoop in and heal His friend, would bring glory to God and glory to the Son of God.  (John 11)  There was also the time when Simon and his friends had been out fishing all night without any luck.  They were whipped and had pulled to shore defeated.  Jesus told them, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.“  Hesitantly, Simon listened to the calm words of Jesus, let down the nets, and they caught so many fish that their nets were breaking and they needed help bringing the fish to shore.  So many fish in fact, that the boats were sinking.  (Luke 5)

I started to think about my daughter’s driving lesson, and how we should listen to the calm, wise, and loving voice of the Holy Spirit.  We should learn to trust that the Spirit knows what it’s talking about, has our best interests at heart and that the lessons we learn, even though we don’t feel we deserve to go through them, will make us a better “driver”.  We should learn that things will always go better when we learn to stop when the Holy Spirit tells us to stop, and go when the Holy Spirit tells us to go.  When that little, calm whisper speaks to us… we should surrender and do what it tells us to do.  We should remember it’s lessons and learn from them.

I’ve been driving for over 24 years and I feel each day something new could be learned.  The same holds true for our lives.  None of us have everything down pat, so listen to the more experienced Spirit, trust what it tells you to do, and do it.  And get your oil changed on a regular basis!  (Sorry, the Dad in me came out there!)

* Wednesday teaching session by Brother Roger Johnson – First Baptist Church, Villa Ridge, MO.

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