Driving down the highway, suitcases in the back, a girl’s weekend awaited me. I queued up my podcast, punched in my destination and smiled at the 4 hours I would drive in the silence. No arguing children in the back, no questions to answer, no errands to run, no phone calls to make, no dinner to pick up ingredients for. Just me and the windshield, and well, a whole lotta cars on the road to navigate around.
I hadn’t been driving for 15 minutes before the Lord interrupted my journey. I was trying to listen to the sermon I missed from the Sunday before, but all of a sudden a flashback interrupted the pastor’s string of words.
I remembered the time I had driven through this same town and pulled into a gas station to fill up. It was a gas station on the edge of town, yes the one a little run down and scary. I went inside to pay for my fuel and there was a lady there, of Asian descent trying to buy lottery tickets. It sounded like she needed to win money from these lottery tickets to buy something important.
I remember listening to her broken English conversation with the clerk and my heart breaking. I wanted to give her whatever money she needed and tell her that there is a God who loves her, sees her and longs to provide for her. I wanted to tell her that she doesn’t have to spend money on lottery tickets…that they won’t yield what she’s looking for. But I didn’t. I walked out that door and just said a prayer for her instead.
So, as I drove through this town on my way to a girl’s weekend/conference, this memory hot on my mind, I heard the Spirit say to me, Go back to that gas station.
I don’t know about you, but when I hear instructions like that, I try and reason my way out of them. First I tried to ignore that I heard anything and offer the excuse that I’m on my way to a conference and instead of listening to vain music, I’m listening to a sermon…God, don’t you want me to do that?
But the prompt to go to that particular gas station remained.
I continued to wrestle with the words, thinking I’m just hearing things. I drove about 10 miles past the gas station to where I needed to make a turn. I thought to myself, If I turn here, that’s it. There’s no going back.
Two hundred yards before the intersection, the gentle prompt turned into a piercing stab. The pastor on my podcast began to share the story where David brings the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem with a jubilant procession. There’s dancing, singing, instruments playing, when all of a sudden, the oxen carrying the ark stumble and the man closest to it, Uzzah, instinctively reaches out to steady it.
And immediately God struck him dead. I imagine all the air from the joyous procession evaporating into thin air. Everyone stops playing their instrument and stares at the scene.
Why did God strike the man dead for touching the ark? Because only the priests were allowed to touch the ark. These men would have been well trained on this fact. DO NOT TOUCH THE ARK. No matter what.
Yet Uzzah reached out and touched it. It’s instinctive to reach out and catch something that’s about to fall. He had good intentions, but good intentions are not obedience.
As the pastor told this story, my gut caught on fire. I prayed, Lord, I want my immediate reaction to you to be obedience to your word, no matter what you say. And God’s word came back to me, Then go back to that gas station.
At this point my conviction was so strong that I turned around, tears in my eyes at how easy it is to ignore the Lord’s voice and go my own way. Immediately as I turned around, the peace of God enveloped me.
I drove the 10 miles back to that particular gas station, intent on buying a package of gum. I had no idea what awaited me, but was resolved to do and say whatever He put on my heart.
So I get there. And I park. I walk into the store and find the gum isle. I look around. There is no one in this gas station right now. No one. I walk to the counter and pay for my gum with NOTHING on my mind to say, no words burning to come out. I say thank you and have a good day to the clerk and I leave.
I sit in my car and pray, Lord what was that? Why did you ask me to come back here? My only response back was, Slow down and travel at my pace. Take time to see the people around you.
You know how when your family arrives at the local water park and the kids are so excited to get through the gate they shoot out of the car like a rocket and run through the parking lot screaming? What do we as moms say? Hey buddy, STOP! Slow down! Wait for me. That’s what I got. I know you’re excited to go to this event, but slow down, wait for me!
Yes sir Lord. I’m yours. All yours.
On one hand I wish I had life together and everything figured out. A clean house with a place for everything and everything in its place. But then I think, what fun would that be? It’s in life’s messes I watch my Creator make a masterpiece. He takes my spilled paint, torn fabric and frayed strings of life and weaves in His Redemption and Love and makes it something beautiful. His creativity inspires me to be creative. So watch your step! And thanks for joining me on this messy, creative adventure of life.