Friday, November 07, 2008

Your Headlights are Off

"Did you know that your headlights weren't on?"  That's the first question that popped out of my mouth after a frustrating 30 minutes trying to find a friend of mine who was supposed to meet me at a restaurant in Frisco.  Her reply, "At least I was driving on the right side of the road.  Give me some credit!"

She's been living in England for three years, and had flown in for a short vacation.  All her plans were made at the last minute, so our own get-together was hurriedly planned and not well-thought out.  As I discovered later, she doesn't have a much of a sense of direction, so my instructions, "go north on the Tollway to the exit and then go back south on the service road" only confused her.  Thanks to cell phones, we we're finally able to get to the same place. But it was dark, and in her borrowed car she had no idea that the headlights didn't come on. As she said, "I was driving with the light from the streetlights."

During our conversation, she mentioned a difficult decision that was before her.  She had been turning to many others for guidance with this, but was getting a variety of opinions and still found herself torn and undecided.  For some reason, she could not trust her own soul with this, and the conflicting words from friends left her very disturbed.  I suggested that perhaps she was driving with her headlights off--using the light from others rather than turning on her own light so the path was better able to be seen.

I'm not sure she appreciated my suggestion, but think that a lot of people do just what she seemed to be doing.  We want to seek guidance from God, but are so untrusting that we can actually hear God's voice for ourselves that we rely on streetlights from others rather than our own headlights to move forward. That works while we are on well-lit and well-traveled roads.  It becomes very problematic when we move off the popular street onto less well-traveled spots. 

Finding the general guidance of God is pretty easy:  loving God with all that you are and then loving your neighbor as yourself.  Those are the main streetlights that light our paths.  It's the specifics of loving God and neighbor as self that can get pretty confusing, and the way we love God and others is different for each person.  That's why we've got to use our own headlights as well as the streetlights. 

So how do we turn on our own headlights?  I remember first hearing a very, very famous preacher and scholar getting ready to talk about finding the will of God.  I was just starting my years as a graduate student and I, along with hundreds of others, sat waiting with our pens poised to write for wisdom that would change our life.  The famous preacher said these things, "Pray, read your Bibles, and go to church."  We all looked at him with some dismay.  This is all?  Isn't there some mysterious way into the mind of God where we would know exactly what to do. 

Not really.  If you want to drive with your own headlights on, that's what you do:  pray, read your Bible, and go to church.  After a while, you'll begin to know the mind of God, and the road will become very clear.  It was a piece of good advice I've never forgotten.

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