GOT POWER?

(This is a revised version of the post originally posted April 21, 2015)

We were camping when an unexpected cold snap caused some damage to the RV.  Frozen hoses and pipes were identified and then we went to work searching the Internet to find a place that had the necessary parts.   A quick call confirmed that they were open and had the needed parts. So now it was up to us to get there.

Since we were in unfamiliar territory, I pulled out the trusty RV GPS that is created specifically for the intrepid RV camper and put in the address.

Directions GPS

We found the store, purchased the necessary supplies, and began our trek back to the campground when we came to several intersecting roads. In fact, this intersection arrived just as my husband was asking what road we needed to be watching for AND just as the GPS flashed “LOW POWER” and “POWERING OFF”.   Then, it just went blank.  Not even a “sorry” or “I tried” or “You have 1 more minute”.  Just … well, nothing.  It apparently didn’t care if we got lost!

I couldn’t believe it.  In my second of need, it was “powering off.”  My frustration stemmed from the fact that, unlike my husband, I get lost in a paper bag.  I am the one who, in Walmart, will turn left into the main aisle thinking I am going to the checkout lane and wind up in sporting goods at the back of the store.  If there are two directions to select from, I will ALWAYS pick the wrong one.

Anyway, I was the one who had insisted that we purchase this GPS, even though my husband has a virtually infallible sense of direction, simply because I do not.  I wanted to have my own backup plan … assuring myself that we could find our way home if something happened to his directional instincts.  So, we purchased this fancy-dancy GPS thing and now, when he actually asked me a directional question, in my truest hour of need, it is “powering off”.

Inside the car, I went into full scale fume mode, when my husband said simply “We’ll just plug it into the charger when we get back to the RV.”

How simple, yet how profound.  Recharge!  That’s the answer for the electronic messages that had disrupted my day. 

But what about spiritually?  How do we get our spiritual power?  And, when we have exhausted our power, how do we recharge?

In Acts 1:8, Scripture records Jesus as promising that his disciples would “receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” so that they could be effective witnesses for Him. We understand this coming of the Holy Spirit as the day of Pentecost, and because of that day, we believe that the Holy Spirit is within us, as Jesus promised.  John 14:16-17.

But the Holy Spirit’s presence with us is not the whole answer to the “recharge” question.  We must avail ourselves of that power.  I had chargers available at the camp site but the GPS had not been plugged in – now, it was unable to give me the information that I needed when I needed it.  It had no power even though that power had been available.

Likewise, simply having the Scripture in your hand, purse, cell phone or pocket, is not availing yourself of the power which otherwise would be provided. This realization prompted me to consider how often I had ignored going to the Scripture to charge my spiritual batteries.

I had time for many other things, but, I did not have time to quell the growling hunger for my Lord by feeding on the nourishment of His Word in Holy Scripture.  Daily activities took priority over quiet time with Him that would have prepared me for those encounters that He had prearranged for me to handle according to His will, not mine. Ephesians 2:10.

Did my spiritual red light flash “Powering Off” when the assignment came because my batteries had not been charged through reading His Word with contemplation and prayer and then praising Him for His excellent goodness and mercy?

Or, did I not even see the assignment that He had for me that day because my spiritual eyes and ears did not have sufficient power to even recognize the call to present Christ to those around me?

Scripture states that the Spirit and Scripture were given to us so that we would be complete and equipped for every good work that God has for us to do.   2 Peter 1:3 and 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

The kicker is that we must plug ourselves in to the Source of our Power.  Seek the Lord and He will be found.  He is waiting for you.   Deuteronomy 4:29.   Beloved, don’t delay – go to the source of all power and life, Jesus Christ and His Word.

Father, forgive me when I give more time and attention to worldly things and ignore the more important spiritual preparation that I should undertake.  May I look to Your Word continually and seek the Holy Spirit to provide the power to live my life in constant witness of Your love, grace and mercy.

THE TRIP TO … WHERE AM I?

It is no secret in our family that I have absolutely no inherent sense of direction. Even with the little N or SW on the car’s information panel, I often don’t know which way to go.  Unless I am driving to my grocery store, my office, my church, it would be anyone’s guess about when, or whether, I would get to the place I intended to go.  [I call this my “elongated route syndrome” rather than simply saying that I get lost all the time.]

The best example of one of my elongated routes was the subject of an earlier blog entitled The Elongated Trip posted May 23, 2015.  I was to go to Bristol, Tennessee from Knoxville in the days before GPS or the voice of Siri directing your travel. This trip is, for almost everyone, about 120 miles.  But, for me, on that day, the trip was over 240 miles, not on interstates but rather on state routes through the mountains, valleys and byways of Tennessee and Kentucky. 

map-showing-elongated-trip

As you can likely guess, the yellow is the easy route that I should have taken while the green line shows the actual path that I drove.

Bill and I recently drove through Bristol and, since Bill was driving, I could think about that long drive.  While the trip was decades ago, I still remember it vividly.

It occurred on a day when frustrations, fears and financial deficits were facing me with full force; it was a day when I was sure that the future was bleak and that there would be no possible rescue.  I did not doubt that God loved me, nor did I think that He had abandoned me … I just did not see how any relief would be coming that would help my dire situation.

When we don’t know what to do or where God is directing us to go, we often become anxious, frustrated, and sometimes resentful, thinking that we are just “biding time” while others are active in the ministry that we want to do. After all, we want to get going!

During times such as this, try to back away from the situation and consider whether God might be trying to teach you a lesson.  Remember, the Holy Spirit indwells each Christian and it is His job to transform us into the likeness of God’s Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. This transformation occurs by developing the fruit of the Spirit that Paul details in Scripture, such as in Galatians chapter 5.  So, look and see where the Holy Spirit is working in your heart, see what God is teaching you.

Think about the lessons in patience that you can learn as you wait for the Lord!  Scripture often exhorts us to wait …

Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!

Psalm 27:14  

but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31  

But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.

Micah 7:7

Think about the lessons in peace and faithfulness that you can learn as you trust God to guide your steps …

The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.

Psalm 28:7

… For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.  Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.

2 Corinthians 1:8-9

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2 Corinthians 12:9

 

oregon-lighthouse-and-gps-c
Lighthouse and GPS — the old and new navigation tools meet along the Oregon coastline.

God will lead us as surely as the lighthouse pointed the way to the seafaring voyagers and as specifically as our modern GPS technology allows.  (Both are noted in this picture from the Oregon coast, the lighthouse on the left and the GPS on the roof of the adjacent building.)

We usually don’t know why we have an “elongated route” on our road with the Lord.  We can’t see His reason for taking us along that way at that time, but we don’t need to know all that.  All we need to know is that we are in the Hands of our loving Father. 

Charles R. Swindoll said it like this in Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life (Zondervan):

“We’re not supposed to have airtight answers! Why? Because our understanding is earthbound. . . . Our focus is from the ground up. . . . We see now, He sees forever. We judge on the basis of the temporal; He, on the basis of the eternal. . . . His vantage point is infinity.”

Trust this Lord who will teach us lessons while we are going along the “elongated route”. He knows our ultimate destination and He has planned our trip so when we get to our destination, we will have the ability to do the assignment that He has for us to do.  The lengthened route may be designed to quiet your soul so that you can hear His voice speaking words of calm, encouragement, direction, and strength into your heart and soul.  It certainly did that for me.    

The classic hymn “Have Thine Own Way, Lord” expresses the desire to grow in our Lord while we are “waiting, yielded and still”.  Here is the hymn as sung on the album Hymns in the Vineyard.

 

Give Him the keys to your life.  And keep your eyes on Him as He directs your path.

Father, I praise Your name for Your faithfulness and patience as You teach me lessons even when I am complaining about having to wait or when I am unsure of where You are directing me to go.   Enable me to have faith sufficient to simply hand over the keys to my life to You and then let me ride along on the trip that You have planned out for me.  Mold me and make me after Your will, so all can see Christ only always living in me.   

 

STRAIGHT AND NARROW

We were standing at Lava Butte Lookout on top of a cinder cone outside of Bend, Oregon.  Six thousand years earlier, a volcano caused lava formations that resulted in the cinder cone we were standing on, with its 150 foot deep crater below our feet. The landscape was beautiful, but stark and seemingly dead.  [View of the Lava Butte cinder cone crater in Bend, Oregon ]

Lava Butte Lookout - cinder cone crater, Bend Oregon
Lava Butte Lookout – cinder cone crater, Bend Oregon

As we gazed at the horizon over the edge of the crater, it was clear that there was growth and life beyond the lava rock that had spewed from the earth so long ago.  Large trees and bushes were evident and life was going on, notwithstanding the desolation of the crater itself.

But, then, we saw, coming from the base of the cinder cone and extending far into the distance, a road, dividing the forest on either side, and with no other roads visible from our viewing position.  A long straight road, as far as the eye could see.  [View from the Lava Butte Lookout, Bend, Oregon]

View of road from Lava Butte Lookout
View of road from Lava Butte Lookout

Perhaps it is because I am currently reading John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, that I saw the straight road with great interest as it was reminiscent of Bunyan’s description of the right road.

MR. GOOD-WILL. … Look before thee; dost thou see this narrow way? THAT is the way thou must go; it was cast up by the patriarchs, prophets, Christ, and his apostles; and it is as straight as a rule can make it. This is the way thou must go.

[Bunyon, Pilgrim’s Progress, at {66}, obtained from The Project Guttenberg, at https://www.gutenberg.org/files/131/131-h/131-h.htm]

Or, perhaps it is because of reading the Gospel’s account of Christ and his teaching to those around Him that Jesus’ words about the pathway to Heaven rang in my ears.

“Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Matthew 7:13-14 [NIV]

[Picture is of the straight road we drove as we traveled from the Columbia River Highway to Bend, Oregon.]

The road to where? Between Columbia River Highway and Bend, Oregon.
The road to where? Between Columbia River Highway and Bend, Oregon.

In Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian asks Mr. Good-Will if the straight road has any turns or windings that would cause the traveler to lose his way.  Mr. Good-Will responds:

MR. GOOD-WILL. Yes, there are many ways butt down [border] upon this, and they are crooked and wide. But thus thou mayest distinguish the right from the wrong, the right only being straight and narrow.

[Bunyon, supra at {67}]   We know in our own lives that there are times when there is “a fork in the road” and we have difficulty in knowing which road we should take.  [Picture was taken outside Bend, Oregon of mountains in the Cascade Range, Oregon.]

Outside Bend, Oregon facing mountains in the Cascade Range - fork in the road
Outside Bend, Oregon facing mountains in the Cascade Range – fork in the road

Peter, after describing those who follow “the corrupt desire of the flesh” says:

“They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness.”  2 Peter 2:15.

The Christian must stay on the narrow road, keeping his/her eyes focused on the Lord Jesus Christ while not allowing the things of this world to creep into the mind and disguise the correct road to follow.

My Beloved sold surveying instruments, GPS equipment and other place positioning items during his years of employment. Thus, wherever we go, we often will find, and photograph, survey control markers stating exactly where we are on this globe.  [Picture of a survey control marker along the path by on the Columbia River Highway, Oregon.]

Survey marker reference point in Oregon
Survey marker reference point in Oregon

Geographically we can find out where we currently are so that we can confirm that we are on the route that we intend to be traveling.  If we have taken a wrong turn, the markers will help us get back on the correct road. [Pictures are of the NOAA global positioning reference station in Mississippi]

NOAA GPS informational marker
NOAA GPS informational marker
GPS positioning possible for today's traveler
GPS positioning possible for today’s traveler

While it is important to know where we are on our planet, it is far more important to know where we are on our spiritual journey.  Traveling down the wrong road will have eternal consequences, so our path is not something to be taken lightly.

Spiritually, we are not left alone to guess if we are on the correct spiritual path.  Although the road is narrow and difficult, Jesus has given us the route and He has provided His Holy Spirit to guide and direct us.  Scripture is our road map, if you will, for our spiritual journey.  Scripture steers us directly to God and gives direction as to how we are to live in Him.  If we need a course correction, we can learn about it by reading the Word of God and praying for guidance and understanding.

God's roadmap for our lives, steering us directly to Him -- the Holy Bible.
God’s roadmap for our lives, steering us directly to Him — the Holy Bible.

Praise the Lord that we are not alone in our spiritual pilgrimage.  The Lord’s Spirit is with us, He has given us other Christians who can encourage and strengthen our understanding and resolve, He has given us His Word for instruction and reproof, and He has given us His Body, the Church, for teaching and growth as disciples of our Lord.

Father, thanks be to You for providing us salvation through Your Son, Jesus Christ and for giving us the Holy Spirit as our constant companion and friend.  I pray that You would show me the road to take, that you would make the way clear and that you would give me perseverance and strength to travel the journey you have laid out for me.  In all things, Father, may I give all glory to You and my Savior, Jesus Christ.