The interest of 12 year old boys would be piqued by cars. And my distant memory of cars associated with freedom could introduce the underlying message of Galatians 5.
But then I lost my resolve and stuck with the printed text.
In the end, the questions provided fueled our discussion and proved difficult enough without my philosophizing. And I was spared the self doubt sure to haunt me had I voiced my interpretation on broader themes. Now several Sundays past that lesson and 2 sermons wiser on the subject, I dare to post the analogy that began to surface in my thoughts as I made myself presentable to enter a classroom of adolescent boys. Though considered material for a junior Sunday school lesson, I intend no insult to anyone’s intelligence with this parallel. Besides, only those some older than 12, can understand that thrill of the first solo drive after achieving a driver’s license. I remember driving to some event alone the evening after passing my examination. The world was opening to me and suddenly all I saw was endless opportunity.
I had a life to live and by all appearances a driver’s license freed me to live it.
At seventeen I was a product of the age of motion and a family of believers. As a child I rode with my parents many places, but most often to church, in various evolving vehicle models experiencing the phenomenon of combustion engine transportation. I learned God’s Word along with the meaning for the symbols of driving. I saw how dad utilized the vehicle’s mechanisms, of which I understood little more than the need for gasoline. And I learned to recognize poor driving etiquette which he pointed out to us with true transport truck driver expertise.
Mine was a Christian worldview that extended from the church doors, onto the road, into the front door at home.
However, I was no Christian on account of my parent’s examples, my Christian worldview, or my morality.
And though my early exposure to driving coupled with weeks of class instruction, handbook review, and months of accompanied driving, deemed me properly equipped, free to drive, with many places to go, I had no car.
Apparently a driver’s license offered a freedom I couldn’t access on the budget of a seventeen year old. I could only step out of the family vehicle and live God’s plans for me with a vehicle I couldn’t afford.
And this was the thrill that evening this Child of God drove herself to an event: my Father provided me a car!
Jesus passed the driver’s test to God for me. In exchange for His life, God gave me the vehicle of His purposes and plans for me, along with the key of His acceptance, my access to freedom.
But freedom is only accessed, not maintained, by the existence of God’s gift of salvation and acceptance. It continues only with proper and adequate fuel powering my life. One tank of gasoline after my first solo drive and I understood my freedom was tied to the car’s power. Thankfully, the resident fuel tanks were a necessity in the farmyard, and the gasoline was free unless the car use provided me transportation to a job.
Keeping a vehicle fueled does not get more convenient than the farmyard or cheaper than simply reimbursing dad at cost, unless I am navigating life in God’s plans for me, on the fuel of His Spirit.
Then fuel is available everywhere at no cost. Yet I habitually control the gas pedal with little respect or thought for the fuel I’m using. I value the places to go, things to do, and the thrill of the ride more than the fuel.
Were I to value the fuel that powers my journey, I would regularly pause to add fuel to my tank before the need to worry presented itself in indications from the fuel gauge that my journey is in danger of a sputtering stop beside the road. And I would use the gas pedal with consideration for the distance I need to cover until I can add to my fuel tank.
Freedom is directly proportionate to the steady flow of God’s Spirit in my life.
Without it the abundant life promised is continually interrupted by my panic to once again reach a fuel stop or as I discovered as a passenger riding a country road, by an empty fuel tank. Gloriously, dad was only a cell phone call away and willing to come to our aid with a jerry can. The generosities of my Fathers coincide. And I tell myself that I am not careless with their generosity, despite a driving history testifying otherwise.
My frequent heavy accelerations and detours consume fuel for no advantage to the ultimate goal as I try to push God’s plans for me ahead of His schedule and around my carnality. This is the same carelessness that eventually risks an ill timed empty gas tank.
To my shame, my tendency continues to be driving with a perpetually low tank of gasoline.
I do have enough appreciation for the fuel powering a vehicle that I’ve never been found pushing my car down the road with a tank full of gasoline. This is counter productive to the entire purpose of possessing a vehicle.
Freedom in driving and living is only experienced when utilizing the power of fuel and the Holy Spirit.
However, God knows I’ve tried to live His plans for me this way, choosing to depend on my own resources rather than God’s Spirit fuel to power my obedience to Him. Moving forward with God’s plans for me depending on my human power is an exhausting, discouraging situation. It is not freedom. It is not liberty in Christ.
It is self-righteousness.
I wish I could say, “And the girl and the car lived happily ever after.”
But the car my dad provided was re-purposed after I couldn’t stop when necessary on an icy road. The insurance company labeled the car “totaled” and abandoned it to the scrap yard.
But with God investing in my life and faith, I’ve been protected through driving mishaps and spiritual wrecks. Thankfully He’s never abandoned the vehicle of His plans for me, though some adjustments may have been necessary.
Freedom is a delicate state to live in.
I’m learning that the laws and guiding structure of roads and signs and Scripture and Spiritual authorities are not restrictions but aids to providing me a safe, successful, even enjoyable journey. When I accept them, I navigate with a wisdom that values the power fueling my journey, and follows the guiding structure with consideration for the conditions of my environment. They are beneficial to the goal of reaching my destination where my arrival is expected.
By God’s grace and the power of His Spirit I will arrive alive in Glory to receive ultimate freedom:
life within the fuel chamber of God’s presence.
I’ll take to the skies and sore in the splendor of His power and wonder! I will be free, eternally.
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-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Scripture describes The Eternal One and His work. Nature echos His words that called it to existence. Humanity exhales His breath that awakened its soul.
These, the sighs of eternity, remnants of glory, hints of truth, Invite us to recognize, receive, and reciprocate Redemption through the Resurrected Word of Life.
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