God speaks to us, be obedient listen to him

Published 9:12 am Monday, January 24, 2011

Just two weeks ago Leigh Ann and I were going to Auburn for a few days.  Leigh Ann had a conference in Montgomery and I went along to spend a couple of nights with her.  We were going to stay at a friend’s house in Auburn and we wanted to get there before it got dark outside.  Our friend was home for Christmas and the house had been empty for two weeks and we wanted some sunlight when we got there.  On Saturday, I asked Leigh Ann if she had the key and she assured me that she did.  Sunday afternoon we left for our journey.  We were in two different cars because I needed to come back a day early.  As I was driving on to the ramp to I-65 I had a feeling that I needed to call Leigh Ann just to make sure she had the key, but I didn’t.  I ignored this voice telling me to make sure.  As we drove up the interstate I had relaxation on my mind.  I was going to Auburn, no laundry to take care of, no work to do, just relax and relax some more.  I had my favorite flannel PJ’s in the suitcase (the blue ones with the sock monkeys on them) and I couldn’t wait to put them on, grab my book, and thank goodness for city living, Leigh Ann and I were going to have pizza delivered right to the front door.  Could it get any better?

We stopped at the Fort Deposit exit at Priester’s.  If you haven’t been there, you need to go sometime.  While we were there I asked Leigh Ann if she had the key.  She gave me that look and said “if it will make you feel better I will show you the key.”  She reached in her purse and guess what?  You guessed it, the key was not there.  Oh my goodness!  She went to the car to see if she could find it.  When she walked through the door I knew that she had not found the key.  We had a decision to make. How would we get the key?  We could drive all the way home (we were 1 1/2 hours from home) get the key and head back up the road; drive home and spend the night and start again in the morning; or we could see if someone would meet us with the key.

Leigh Ann called her sweet boyfriend and he was more than happy to bring the key to us.  We headed south and he headed north.  We had plans to meet along the way.  We decided that we would meet in Evergreen because we knew for sure that it was a good exit.  As we drove back toward Evergreen there were signs everywhere alerting us that state troopers were patrolling a stretch of interstate that was a 100 miles long.

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As we were sitting in the parking lot at a fast food place in Evergreen I suddenly had a stab in the pit of my stomach. This was a Sunday afternoon, we had left Leigh Ann’s car parked at Priester’s; what time did they close?  You see they have this gate at the end of the driveway and they lock it at night.  I had visions of Leigh Ann’s car either being locked away for the night or being towed and then what in the world would we do?  I called Priester’s and they told me that they close at 6 p.m.  Whew!  It was 5 p.m.  I knew that it had taken us 38 minutes to get to Evergreen which meant that it would take us at least 38 minutes to get back to Priester’s.  Cody arrived; we got the key, made it back to Priester’s to get the car before it was locked away.  I was really beginning to understand how Gilligan felt.

Leigh Ann was feeling bad, I was feeling bad and we had decisions to make.  All I could think about was my pajamas and that pizza being delivered to the door.  Kind of Beverly Hillbillies, huh?  In the end, it all worked out; I made into my pajamas, the pizza was delivered and I was able to read a few pages of the current book I was reading.

But as we were driving along, I began to think how much this situation resembles life.  You see, I heard that voice tell me to call Leigh Ann and ask about the key.  I ignored this prompting and kept driving only to find myself in quite a pickle.  Here I was at Priester’s with a raspberry white chocolate latte in one hand and a dilemma in the other.  All of this could have been avoided if I had only listened to this voice telling me to call Leigh Ann.  It is a lot closer to home from Exit 57 than it is from Priester’s.

Some of you may be thinking that God doesn’t speak to us about keys; that God has bigger issues to deal with.  However, before we left on this trip; I had prayed that God would be with us on our journey.  This included safety, awareness of the road and our surroundings.  I prayed that we would have an uneventful trip; this entire fiasco could have been avoided if I had called Leigh Ann at Exit 57 like I was prompted to do.

This event reminded me so much of how we live our lives.  We pray and we ask God to help us in different situations and then we refuse to listen.  I am not trying to trivialize the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives with this story, but this journey is a good example of what happens when we fail to listen.

So many times we are focused on the end result – the thing that we want the most – comfort, convenience, success, etc. – and ignore what God is saying to us about the journey.  I have often heard people say, “It is not the destination but the journey that counts.”  I believe this to be true.  It is on the journey that God is revealed to us.  The journey is where we encounter the bumps and scrapes along the way and our eyes are opened and our spiritual sense is made aware of God’s presence in our journey.

But more often than not, we find ourselves so focused on the destination that we miss seeing and experiencing God.  How do we maneuver along the journey?

We need to listen and to be obedient – when we pray to God and ask Him to enter our lives and be with us in our day to day activities, we need to listen.  We may not always like what we hear, but we need to listen.  We all know that we are living in a time that is challenging economically.  Maybe you have been praying for a way to have more money; maybe God is telling you to spend less.  Are you listening; are you being obedient?  Maybe you have been praying to be in better health; perhaps God is telling you to get active and eat healthier.  Are you listening; are you being obedient?

I have also realized that sometimes we are comfortable with the past and we willingly turn around and go right back where we started from.   Even if the past was not pleasant, we often go there because we have a fear of moving forward.  When we journey with God, we must allow God to navigate.  Oftentimes we can’t or don’t like to release control to God so we just go back to the place where we were thought we were in the driver’s seat.  However, if we always hold onto the past, we will miss God’s guidance into the future.

Have you ever been in a conversation and you felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit tell you “Don’t say it, don’t say it”?  And then before you know it, bam, you all those words begin pouring out of your mouth.  Then you find yourself right in the middle of a situation that certainly could have been avoided, if only you had listened.

You know what your situation is that you have been praying about.  Let me assure you that you are not alone, God is right there with you.  “And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”  1 Corinthians 10:13.

We fumble around in the dark and we try to complicate life when all we need to do is to listen to God and to be obedient.  We need to be prepared to take the “out” that only God provides.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you that I don’t have to walk through life on my own.  Help me to hear.  Help me to be obedient.  Amen.

Rev. Diane Everette is the pastor of McRae United Methodist Church and Bethel United Methodist Church.