“And so, my children, listen to me, for all who follow my ways are joyful. Listen to my instruction and be wise. Don’t ignore it.”
We have only had our current car for a few months, and it still surprises me every now and then by doing things I don’t expect; The night before last when I set out to drive home on our first frosty night of this winter, I was amazed by a notification that suddenly flashed up on the screen on the dashboard:”Warning! Icy road conditions ahead”
Oh wow, I’ve never had a car so sophisticated that it warned me that the road ahead was about to become icy!
I needed the warning and immediately slowed down a little, becoming lot more alert, watching out for any icy patches. I didn’t see any, but I was glad of the warning anyway.
This event made me think of a spiritual parallel.
Have you ever been just going along smoothly in life, where everything seems great; Your Bible reading is really rich and satisfying, your interpersonal relationships are good, and most importantly, it feels as though your walk with God has never been closer. Then suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, the “wheels come off” – and you’re left thinking ‘what happened’?
Thinking now of those times in my own life, if I’m honest with myself, there’s no “suddenly” involved in it at all. There are always little warning signs, just as there are in my car, that something isn’t quite right with me or needs attention in the ‘engine’ – my soul.
If you look at the scene of most car crashes they’ve happened because someone wasn’t paying attention- either in the moment; while driving, or to their car’s needs in the days before the accident and something in the engine has given way.
We need to be alert, spiritually.
We need to be alert, spiritually.
Proverbs 8:1 warns us “Listen to my instruction and be wise. Don’t ignore it.”
RECOGNISE YOUR WARNING SIGNS
It’s important that we recognise our warning signs. Just in the same way that your car might start making a funny noise when something is wrong, or a cautionary light might come on on the dashboard, we all have behaviour patterns that show that something needs attention in our hearts.
Recognise Your Warning Signs
It’s important that we recognise our warning signs. For me, one clear warning sign is that I start to grumble.
The moment I take my eyes off God and start to focus on me; my circumstances, my feelings, and what I do or don’t have in life, something becomes gets misaligned. It might be imperceptible at first, but before long the first warning sign flags up; I’ll grumble about something. Maybe just mutter under my breath – but it’s still a complaint. (and The Lord hears it) I need to heed that very first warning sign at the very first temptation to whinge or complain, otherwise, believe me, it’s not a pretty sight. I may manage to look kind of shiny on the outside but on the inside there are times that my attitude stinks.
Remember what happened to the children of Israel when they grumbled in the wilderness?
Hebrews 3:6-9 tells us:
“That is why the Holy Spirit says, “Today when you hear his voicedon’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested me in the wilderness. There your ancestors tested and tried my patience, even though they saw my miracles for forty years.”
‘When you hear his voice don’t harden your heart’- heed it
Are you like me? Do you grumble? (That’s only one of mine by the way) Perhaps your warning sign is something different; we are all different, that’s what makes us unique, and we all have our work areas. Here are a few signs I’ve observed in myself and other people over the last 40 years or so.
*Comparison – other people always have it better than you.
*Criticism of others.
*Religion – slipping into patterns of religious ritual and traditions rather than relationship with God.
*Feelings of inadequacy, that, most of the time you overcome but when you’re tired and your guard is down, all it takes is one unfortunate joke, or misunderstanding and you feel you’re right back there!
What to do when the Warning Light comes on
I’m picturing myself now, as though I had a little internal screen such as the one on my car dashboard.
I’m choosing to trust God, my Shepherd who “leads me in paths of righteousness”. (Psalm 23) One of the ways He does this is by that inner prompting that we all feel, as His children.
So I need to be more alert to His voice.
Isaiah 30:21 says: “Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,”whether to the right or to the left.This is the way; walk in it.”
So when I feel that slight ‘off’ feeling, I need to heed it, because very probably, it’s God’s voice, saying “Alert! Possible Grumbling Road conditions Ahead!”
Then I can prepare myself by applying God’s truth to the situation.
Just the way I prepared myself for the dangerous road ahead in my car.
For example, I could remind myself if I’m tempted to start grumbling, of what Psalm 23:1 says – that “The Lord is my Shepherd, and that I lack nothing!” I could also tell myself again, in case I’ve forgotten it, that in 2 Peter 1:3 God says that He has given me everything I need for living a godly life.
And I could start thanking God, for His goodness, His Faithfulness, His love, His Kindness, His Mercy. Every blessing He has lavished on me. I could start to worship Him right there and then for all of those things and just because He’s worthy.
It’s amazing how quickly worship and “an attitude of gratitude” changes one’s whole perspective.
Wisdom Calls Out!
Proverbs 8 describes how The wisdom of God ‘calls out’ to us.
Proverbs 8:4, 6, 9, 12: “I call to you, to all of you! I raise my voice to all people. Listen to me! For I have important things to tell you. Everything I say is right, My words are plain to anyone with understanding, clear to those with knowledge. I, Wisdom, live together with good judgment. I know where to discover knowledge and discernment.”
In verse 1 God warns us “Listen to my instruction and be wise. Don’t ignore it.”
Wisdom. The common Hebrew word for “wisdom” is ḥokmâ, meaning skill, experience, shrewdness, and prudence; God’s wisdom, is the infinite, perfect comprehension of all that is or will ever be (Rom. 11:33-36)
And James 1:5 tells us that we can simply ask God for wisdom. It’s not just acquired information that James is talking about here, it’s the kind of wisdom that is packed with spiritual and practical insight and enables you to face trials with “pure joy” (v. 2).
That’s the kind of wisdom I want, and need.
And when the voice of wisdom calls out to me – I want to have my spiritual ears finely tuned to hear, listen and take heed.
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