So, if I were to keep an account of my morning, it would look something like this:
Woke up at 5:30am, groggily stumbled into my bathroom and began the task of applying makeup to a still-asleep face. Made it through a few steps, then had to go let the dog out. Decided to make some coffee to get this engine going. Dog back in, coffee in hand, I climbed back up the stairs to resume make-up duty. Worked the face and hair into shape, layered up my clothing - as any modesty-conscious worship leader would - and headed downstairs to gather all my accoutrements for the day's assignment. Guitar? Check. Notebook? Check. Hairspray and emergency fix-it items? Check. Excedrin? Check. You get the idea.
I found my sparkly silver shoes, threw a new pack of gum in my purse and then settled in to wait for my ride. By this time, it's about 6:50am, and I'm thinking, "I've got this covered!"
Well, a few minutes after 7am, my friend who is en route to pick me up sends me this frantic text:
"I'm lost in my neighborhood!!!!!"
I giggled to myself and sent a quick reply to let her know "I believe in you, girl", only to have her name and number pop up on the screen. "Crista, I don't know what's going on! There used to be a road that took me straight over the highway, but now I can't find it!" So, I hopped on good ol' Google Maps and helped her navigate her way through. To her credit, the neighborhood she lives in has built up QUITE a bit over the past few months, and things look completely different from one day to the next. New stop signs where there previously were none...new stores at the corner...roads changing names and taking unexpected jogs. But, when I gave her a landmark and told her that the road changed names for a minute, then she could find her way. She appeared in front of my house about 5 minutes later and we were on our way!
We joked on the ride to the church where we were ministering that there HAD to be a blog written about "I'm lost in my neighborhood!!!!" ....and so here it is! That statement was brimming with spiritual significance...
I mean, haven't you felt that way before? About life, in general? "I'm lost in my own neighborhood. I should know where I am going, but everything looks different. Why can't I see where I'm going? I know there was a road here somewhere."
The journey we're on in life is full of turns, stop signs, merges, dead ends, street name changes and oncoming traffic. Everything is in a constant state of flux. Things we took for granted yesterday may not even exist today. So, how on earth are we supposed to navigate? Is there a way to know where we're going and to make it there on time and unscathed?
Yes. Thank God, yes.
Without taking the driving metaphor too far, I want to point out some things that must be maintained in order to truly see and perceive your position.
1. Vision - If you can't see, then you can't drive. Why do we approach our lives any differently? Our natural eyes tell us one thing - the state of the natural order of things around us.
But we are not of this world.
If you belong to Jesus, then you have another set of eyes that will translate the spiritual world for you. The spiritual world is MORE real than the one we experience with natural senses. The spiritual world is our true existence, but so many times we deny it. We let the grime of the natural get caked on our windshield...and we get used to it. One day, you just start seeing life through the filter of junk and think it's normal. If you don't take the time to get the gunk off the windshield, you set yourself up for disaster. YOU CAN'T SEE THROUGH GUNK.
I'm going to make you mad here: If you're constantly watching TV shows that reflect the morality and values of the fallen world, if your passion is keeping up with the lives of celebrities and their drama, if you spend most of your time engaging in the things the world has to offer, then you can't see. Not really. That STUFF may not even be "that bad" in itself, but if you entangle yourself in the stuff of the world, it will always come back to bite you. It crowds out the pure presence of the Holy Spirit. And by "stuff", I mean anything that the world's table has to offer you - not just TV and celebrities. Can people be legalistic and judgmental on issues like this? For sure. Am I judging you? Nope. I'm warning you. You're either washing your windshield or you're caking grime on it. Do you really want to stay lost in your neighborhood?
2. Hearing - Being able to hear really is crucial to navigation! If you can't hear someone honk their horn at you, you might not realize you need to get back on the right side of the road. If you don't hear the motorcycle speeding by you, you might change lanes right on top of him when he is zooming beside your car. You need to be able to hear when you drive...and you need to be able to hear with your spiritual ears when you're navigating through life.
You spiritual ears hear God, but they also hear the enemy. The enemy speaks lies and condemnation. He reminds us of circumstances, insecurities, failures, loss, devastation, injustice...he wants us to think that the natural stuff is all there is. If you keep listening to him, you're progressively stuffing cotton into your spiritual ears. Then, when you find yourself lost on your own street and stop to pray for direction, you have a hard time hearing the Holy Spirit through all the fluff of lies you stuffed into your ears. YOU CAN'T HEAR WITH PLUGS IN YOUR EARS!
3. Power - You can sit in your car all day and press the accelerator, but if you don't have power, you're not going anywhere, my friend! Your car uses a battery and uses fuel to make your engine function and all your dashboard instruments work. Fuel without a battery is useless. Battery without fuel - also useless. They work in conjunction with each other.
The Word and the Spirit are what make YOU go. They work together. You can have chapters of the Bible memorized - which is fantastic! - but if you don't have the active work of the Holy Spirit in your life, you're not going anywhere except in circles of intellectualism. You can experience the presence of the Spirit and the electricity of His power in you, but if you're not also fueled with the Word, you will short out. NO POWER = NO GO.
So, what do you do when you find yourself sitting in your car with a caked-up windshield, earplugs in your ears and no power?
1. Get the gunk off! Remove the sources of gunk in your life! Quit devoting your time and attention to superficial, gossip-y garbage. Replace those things with things that point you to God: friendships with people who love God, reading the Bible, listening to worship music or music that lifts your soul...LOTS of things! Ask the Lord to fill in the blanks for you, and He will.
2. Take the cotton out of your ears! Learn to distinguish between the enemy's voice and God's voice. How? Get in the Word. The more you know the Word, the more you'll recognize God's voice - His book sounds like Him. The more you listen to God's voice and believe Him, the more you'll clean the other obstructions out so you can hear better, quicker and much more clearly.
3. Check your fuel and your battery - Word and Spirit. Are you taking in a steady diet of God's Word? If not, don't beat yourself up - just START! It's never too late to get into God's Word. If you miss a day, start again. No condemnation - only blessings. You're not bad if you don't - you just take yourself out from under a steady flow of God's blessings. Are you yielding to the voice and will of the Holy Spirit in your life? If not, it's never too late to start. In fact, you have to start over every day...sometimes even every hour... If you have given your life to Jesus, then the Holy Spirit lives in you. He "indwells" you and is always with you. You can hear Him if you listen. If you want to experience the Holy Spirit's power operating in you/through you, then you can be "baptized in" the Holy Spirit. He will release powerful gifts in you that equip you for some special ops-levels of life navigation...that's the fun part. :)
Whew! I hope that gets you thinking... It's always good to do a little evaluation on what you're taking in, what you're giving out and where you're going. Happy trails, friends!