Within Tolerance

“Be still my soul, the Lord is on your side” … “In the morning when I rise, give me Jesus.” Hovering between sleep and the first dawn of day, those songs made paths through my memory. To understand, you need the backstory.

I don’t drive very often, and never when there’s a hint of poor driving conditions. Two years ago, I left my house with the sun shining and no hint of snow. I parked my car, entered the store and two hours later things had changed dramatically. As I crept from my parking place, another car coming toward me couldn’t stop, and for a brief moment our cars touched. No visible damage so we got back in our cars and went home. Well, I tried to go home – but something was wrong. Something was causing my car to rebel out of control and it wasn’t the blowing wind or icy roads. There was a defect somewhere between the wheels underneath and the steering wheel in my hands. The car stayed within tolerance at under 18 miles per hour, but at 20 it was out of control.

This wasn’t a lesson in why I shouldn’t be shopping or out joy riding in less than congenial weather. God and I had that discussion as I held the steering wheel with white-knuckle force, coaxing and begging the car to stay in the lane where I directed it. “God, if you just get me home safely, I promise I’ll never drive again.” Silence. “OK, how about this, God. I will stay home and not go anywhere, ever.” Chuckle. “Seriously, God. Do you see me here? I’m scared to death and you’re not helping.” Ponder. “OK, God, just get me home safely. That’s all I want. Nothing more – just keep me on track until I’m home safe.” Agreement.20151210_074618

Be still my soul, the Lord is on your side. Life is like that car. There was a track, a purpose, and with concentrated focus and no excessive speed I stayed within tolerance without straying. How often have I lost focus and strayed outside the path I know was chosen for me? I didn’t hear an audible voice of God, like in Isaiah 30:21 “You will hear a word spoken behind you, saying, “This is the correct way, walk in it,” whether you are heading to the right or the left.” Safely home I considered how those petitions to God while braving the drive apply to all my circumstances and all my choices. Instead of getting ahead of God and slipping outside His boundaries, I should acknowledge the truth of 2 Samuel 22:31 “As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless;…” and because some of us are slow learners he offers Psalm 18:30 “…he shields all who take refuge in him.”

Bargaining … arguing … leveraging, I’m guilty of trying to help God out – Please show me your path, Lord, but I think I can figure out the first part, I just need you there to make it happen. God assures me that he’s listening but in Proverbs 3:1-3 he reminds me “Do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart…they will bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you…”.

Do you have a tendency, like me, to bargain with God? “Please do this, God. It’s what I want, it’s what I need.” Remember that God had David write this for our benefit: Psalm 130:5 “I rely on the LORD, I rely on him with my whole being; I wait for his assuring word.” God says, “Let’s change this up a bit. How about you rely on Me this time?”

That night when I was scared into submission, I didn’t learn that cars break down or that they wander aimlessly if they aren’t kept under control. God wasn’t waiting for my promise to never drive again. God doesn’t change his mind based on human conditions. He wanted for me then what he wants for all of us every day. In the morning when I rise, when I work throughout the day, when the world is fast asleep, God just wants us to say “Give me Jesus.” Psalm 31:24 “Be strong and confident, all you who wait on the Lord!” That’s all he wants of me. It’s all he wants of you – be strong, be confident, wait on God.

In the morning when I rise, In the morning when I rise, In the morning when I rise Give me Jesus – Jeremy Camp https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFJGsBApIuk

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