I was in my lane. I was clearly in my lane and it was a turning lane so do you know what I did? I turned. I know…that’s crazy behavior to do exactly what I was supposed to do according to all of the traffic signals. But this guy behind me who had been riding me for quite some time, began to honk at me for at least 10 seconds as he turned left in a right-turn-only lane. My son was in the car which was a good thing because the aggressive driving and honking at me as if I had done something wrong did not bring out of the Bible-believing, Jesus-following, church-going preacher in me. I am not sure what was trying to come out of me in that moment, but I can tell you this-it was no good.
There was a voice in my head with words that I won’t write here because I want this to be a family-friendly place. It was not that I wanted to shout profanity at him, but I wanted to shout at him, “You’re the one that’s wrong!!” And if I had indulged, the voice in my head would have probably prompted a few more words like “Idiot!” “What’s wrong with you?” “You were supposed to turn right. Are you blind?” “Have you ever driven before?” “Do you understand English-right turn only!!” Whoa. Sorry, I got lost in the moment. For a minute I was back there again. Let’s just say that voice in my head really wanted loose out of my brain. But there was another voice in my head as well.
How can I talk about things at church from the pulpit that I ignore just because an aggressive driver riles me up? The voice continued, “That man didn’t really hurt you. Nothing has been hurt. Let it go.” The other voice in a much more animated way is screaming in my head, “Honk back at him!! That will show him. The force by which you press on your horn will make sure he never does that to anyone ever again.”
I can say that, at least in this moment, I listened to the second voice. But even as my car is gathering more and more distance from that man’s car, the first voice actually said to me, “Do a U-turn and go get him.” Can you believe that? Can you believe a preacher thinks that way? Hmmm…I guess that is the difficult part is that I know that that first voice was me. The second voice was not me at all. How do I know? I know because all of my emotions lined up with the first voice. Everything within me wanted to exact some kind of vengeance even if it was just to honk my horn back. (That really would not have had that much of an effect. I have kind of a ‘girly’ horn. Thank Nissan?) I was craving revenge. It was burning in my blood. Yep, that first voice was me alright. The second voice was the Holy Spirit.
To be honest, there are many times when it seems there is only one voice in my head. I realize in those moments that my desires and thoughts are right in line with the Holy Spirit as He whispers to me. He is easy to follow when I am in agreement. There have even been times when something similar happens to me in traffic and my first response was aligned with the Holy Spirit. I like those moments. I am not conflicted. I remain in harmony. There is no battle within. As wonderful as this moment was, I did not grow spiritually then. The alignment of my own thoughts and the Holy Spirit did reveal some sort of spiritual maturity in the moment, but I didn’t grow.
When Jesus was crucified, He was placed as the Passover Lamb. It was a sacrifice. In the Old Testament, the people were commanded to never come before the Lord without a sacrifice. In Galatians we learn that we are to crucify our sinful passions and desires in order to walk in the Spirit. This requires spiritual growth and spiritual growth requires sacrifice. When my thoughts are in line with the Holy Spirit, there is nothing within me to sacrifice. But when the voice of my sinful nature clashes with the voice of the Holy Spirit, as conflicting as it is, I now have something to sacrifice-my will. The Bible says that Christ was perfected through suffering, but I would suggest it wasn’t the suffering that revealed His perfection. No, it was His choice to sacrifice His will in the midst of suffering that revealed His glory and perfected His life.
I really don’t like when these voices in my head are at odds. I wish I were always thinking what the voice of the Holy Spirit was saying. To be honest, sometimes, when these voices are fighting against one another, I feel as if I am not where I should be. I feel as if I have no spiritual maturity. I feel as if I have gone backward or something. But let’s be honest, God is perfecting me too. And perfection requires sacrifice. It is in these moments when our thoughts fight for something the Holy Spirit wants nothing to do with, if we will pause, we will see that our hands are not empty, but we have something to sacrifice. We have something to crucify. It is our sinful passions and desires.
I know. By now, I might could say that I shouldn’t have even struggled the day the man WHO WENT THE WRONG WAY!! honked at me (maybe I am still struggling a bit). But I can tell you that in times past, I would have only heard one voice and it would have had me honking back loudly and long. The fact is that God has matured me and perfected me a bit and I realize it was through my decision to sacrifice my will when it opposed God’s. It was Christ who said, “Not my will, but thine be done.” This is our goal every time. In each conflicting moment, we have a choice. We can choose to offer the Lord our sacrifice, crucifying our will. Or we can withhold our sacrifice before the Lord and this is not good. These voices in my head don’t seem good until I realize I have something to give, something to sacrifice. When I offer it up to Him, He keeps working on me.