… and then to your left… and then look to your right again…”
Along with “mind your P’s and Q’s” these words were drilled into our heads when we were children in the U.K.! First was for safety reasons when crossing the road, while the latter was for ‘etiquette’ (or courtesy). We returned to my birth town in Northern Sri Lanka during my pre-teens. I remember saying “thank you” to the lady on the road selling peanuts. My friends giggled as for them thanking a ‘service’ provider let alone a street vendor was not heard of as it is a culture of status and hierarchy. I quizzically looked at them and told them indignantly that we need to respect everyone (I so thank God for my mother who taught us to treat everyone equally). Well, it wasn’t long before my friends also learnt to thank the street vendors!
What gets drilled in us as children often gets rooted within. They become habits – what we do without thinking about it. However these habits drilled in us for safety, namely that of “looking to your right and then looking to your left” before crossing the road nearly caused the reverse! It was nothing but by the protection of God this morning that I escaped what could have been a nasty accident. Here I was at the zebra crossing at the main road in Colombo – a very busy road and this I must state is a shame culture whereby people feel ‘shamed’ if they don’t do what they want to do… which includes driving. Zebra crossings don’t mean a thing – they would simply drive past or swerve right past looking at you as if you are the one breaking the law and obstructing their ways.
So here I was absentmindedly crossing this road – thoughts thousand miles away and habitually looking to the right, left and then right again before stepping onto the zebra crossing. Suddenly I looked to the left, despite having taken only a few steps and panic hit me… I had forgotten that this was a ONE WAY road… Thus the flow of traffic was from the LEFT at this point of crossing!!!
A car had appeared in the meantime – in those few seconds of me looking to the right again! As I mentioned earlier, it was by God’s grace alone that I escaped… The vehicle approached but I had already stepped on the road. I gave the driver an innocent look with my facial expression saying it all, “oopsss I made a mistake, a big mistake”. The driver patiently nodded while quickly slowing down to allow me to cross.. It was my fault without a doubt… It was indeed God’s sovereign will that it was this particular driver (and not one of the typical dominant drivers) who came along at that moment.
As usual, this experience got me thinking how a habit for safety reasons could have caused an accident, the reverse effect – to the point of being run over! Isn’t it similar with our relationship with the Lord? We can go about our walk with God habitually – doing “Christian-ese” stuff – going to church on Sundays, reading a page from the daily devotional booklet and perhaps look up a Bible verse, listen to Christian songs, attending a mid week Bible study or small group… We can go with the flow and end up missing out on what really counts. It becomes habitual that we lose purpose…
We often forget that it is not about “LAW” and rules and regulations and rituals… We often lose sight of RELATIONSHIP – a two fold relationship with God and with each other… We think we can earn our salvation by our good works and perhaps our ministries… yet we can jeopardise it without even realising it by going on this track. We have THE RIGHT to become children of God when we believe in Jesus Christ. However we ARE children of God when we are led by the Holy Spirit…
Jesus tells Nicodemus, which also applies to us…
“I tell you the truth, no-one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born of water AND THE SPIRIT… You should not be surprised at my saying, “You must be born again.’ The wind blows where-ever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where its going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:5-8).
Being born again entails us re-programming ourselves… replacing law and rules by being led by His Spirit… It’s not about strategically doing things, but rather trusting Him to lead the way and following suite… It’s not about crossing the road by looking to the left and then to the right.. but rather it’s about examining the situation and looking upwards for direction.
Born AGAIN – from initially being born into a particular culture, a particular family, a particular environment – but now being born into the FAMILY OF GOD, forming the Body of Christ which is headed by Christ alone… It is now about hearing God’s Word and putting it into practice, it is not about doing the will of our Heavenly Father… It is now about being led by the Holy Spirit… not by man made traditions!
I could have lost my life today thanks to habits (as good as they are)… Likewise, could you my friend, be at risk of losing your salvation due to habits formed by man made traditions? Are you willing to be led by the Holy Spirit who is like the wind which you won’t know where it’s coming from, or where it’s going??
Pause… and reflect at God’s Feet!!!
God bless you!