A devotional thought from the streets of Cambodia
Driving in Cambodia is a challenge, but you don’t have to be here long to pick up little “tricks of the trade”. One of the techniques which I employ often is something which I call the “I’m with him” approach. Let me explain it.
Imagine you are on your moto trying to turn left onto a major road. There are no traffic signals or stop signs and there are not sufficient breaks in the traffic for you to cross over and get onto your desired road. When I say a major road, I mean 4 lanes. But don’t confuse 4 LANES with 4 LINES of vehicles! If all you had to deal with was 4 lines of vehicles (2 moving in each direction), that would be simple. But considering the general disregard for lane markers AND the fact that you can fit 3 or 4 motos in one lane anyway, this 4 lane road actually has about 10 or 12 different rows of traffic at any given spot on the road. (And it is not the case that on THIS side of the road everyone is going one way and on THAT side of the road everyone is going another way). So…you get the picture. Getting your little self out into the middle of the action where you need to be can at times be a bit difficult.
There are three basic ways to cut through the traffic. One is to sit there like a good, sane, meek, law-abiding citizen, waiting for the proper break in the traffic so that you may drive across the flow of traffic while making a slow, safe, gently-curving turn onto your desired lane. I tried that once.
The second way is to drive down the left shoulder, against the oncoming traffic, waiting for a little break in the traffic through which you may catapult yourself. That works better than the first way, but it is a bit more dangerous than I usually prefer.
The third way is my favorite. You look for a large vehicle (big SUV’s work well, but so do trucks and buses) that needs to make the same turn as you. The big vehicles are not intimidated in the least by the scene that lies before them. They just charge in, and miraculously the traffic opens up as easily as the Red Sea parted for Moses. So the smartest thing you can do is get on the right side of the big vehicle and borrow his size and strength. Hence the “I’m with him” technique.
Last week as I was in a swirling sea of traffic, about 12 inches off the right rear quarter panel of a big, black SUV, suddenly the thought occurred to me: “I’m with him” is a good SPIRITUAL principle too!
Oftentimes the things that we desire to do for God can seem as daunting in a spiritual sense as the scene which is described for you above. You know what God wants you to do as you stand on the side of the road looking fearfully into what awaits you. There is danger ahead. There is the potential for both success and failure. Nobody else on that road has your interests in mind. You can clearly see where you want to go, but you can also clearly see the hazards and destructive forces which would keep you from the desired end. But we have a big God! He isn’t afraid or intimidated by anybody (I John 4:4). We can get a smile on our face, ease out into the traffic, and say, “I’m with Him!”
Here are three thoughts about using the “I’m with Him” approach in our spiritual lives.
1. Wait on Him.
Psalm 62:1 says, “Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation.” The Biblical concept of “waiting on God” is not about being lazy, but about seeking God’s leadership and direction in all that we do. It is not about falling asleep and setting a task aside because it is hard, but resting peacefully in the calm assurance that He is in control. It is not about being satisfied to stay on this side of the road, but being wise enough not to rush out into the oncoming traffic of life without Him.
Just like the small, relatively insignificant moto-rider “waits” upon the strength and protection of the larger vehicle, so we must learn to wait upon God. It’s better to go WITH God tomorrow than WITHOUT God today. Isaiah 40:32 says, “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength…”
2. Go with Him.
As I slid into place beside that SUV, I realized that the only way this would work was if I stayed very close to it. If it were to make a sudden sharp turn, hit the brakes, or put on a sudden burst of speed, it could leave me exposed. Therefore, my focus could not be on all of the other vehicles all over the road, but it had to be upon my protector. When it applied the brakes, I had to brake. When it accelerated, I had to accelerate. When it turned, I had to turn. I had to keep my eyes upon that one vehicle exclusively, and trust that if I stayed close, my safety would be assured.
So it is with God. It is possible to wait upon Him, to read His Word and seek Him in prayer and then drift away from Him once you have begun the journey. We must keep our eyes upon Him (Heb. 12:1-2), not the people and problems around us. If we will stay close to Him, our spiritual safety is assured. If we are going to stay right with Him, then what we need more than anything is to have the mind of Christ (Phil 2:5) and to know His leading. I love the last phrase of I Corinthians chapter 2: “But we have the mind of Christ.” How is it possible for sinful, weak, and finite man to have the mind of Christ? The answer to that question if found in the entirety of I Corinthians 2. It is through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God. The problem is that too often our lives are grieving or quenching the Holy Spirit and His leading voice has become distant at best or altogether silent at worst. We need to stay sensitive to God’s leading, following His every impression upon our hearts. The closer we stay to Him in the journey, the safer the journey will be.
3. Stay with Him.
For the final point, we must depart from the SUV example. Here is why. Motos can zip through traffic far easier than the big vehicles. The trucks and buses get encumbered by the traffic. Therefore, when I “borrow” a big vehicle to help get me across the traffic, as soon as I am free and clear of the traffic, I accelerate and leave my benefactor behind. Now, that may be okay to do on the road, but it is certainly a foolish thing to do with God. And yet, how many times do we simply wait upon God and go with God to get us through the traffic jams of life, only to leave Him in the dust when we have entered the smooth flow of traffic? “Thanks for your services, God! I can handle it now!”
There is a fascinating conversation between God and Moses in Exodus 33. Moses had just come down from Mt Sinai with the stone tablets of God’s law, and he found the people drinking and dancing around an idol. God was angry. Moses was angry and perhaps a bit embarrassed before God. God seemed to give a big sigh of disappointment and told Moses to get the people back on the road towards Canaan. But from here on, things would be different. Always before, God Himself had promised to go before them and protect them along the way. Now we see Him saying something different. “I will send an angel before thee…I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way.” (vs 2-3) The offer of an angel to go before them was not happy tidings. It was a major blow to them, because they were expecting God to lead the way. The people didn’t miss the serious ramifications of this change. “And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned…” (vs 4) But the person who was bothered the most was Moses. Moses knew that if God didn’t go with them, they would fail. Therefore, Moses interceded for the people. He begged God to change His mind and stay with them. Verse 15 should be deeply ingrained in the mindset of every Christian who seeks God’s power and blessing. “And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.” Moses got it! He knew that He needed to wait on God and go with God, but he also knew the absolute necessity of staying with God.
May we not be guilty of “using” God when the times are tough, but having no time for God when we don’t think we need Him. May we say with Moses, “If you’re not going, then I’m not going”. May we wait on Him. May we be attuned to His every move. And may we never run off ahead, thinking that we no longer need Him. May “I’m with Him” never become “I was with Him”. In fact, maybe we should change it to “I’m still with Him”.