The challenge of walking with the God who knows me  

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If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 2 Cor 5:17

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Prov 3:27

“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it is in your power to act.”

The rain was torrential, as it can so easily be in northern Portugal.  The traffic was stopped, and the car responsible was directly in front of me.  There was no way round, he was completely blocking the road.  I had resigned myself to wait for him to move on.  This is an important characteristic about Portugal, you take things as they come, otherwise you find you are living with tension and bad attitudes.

All of a sudden, the driver’s door of the car ahead opened.  A man came out and started to push the car.  A moment of decision had arrived.  I had two choices;  I could wait for him to move his car just that extra couple of metres and then I would be able to get past, or I could get out of the comfort of my car and help him.  It would not take too long to push him, the cars drivers behind might get a bit irritated, because I would continue to block the road, but they would understand.  In the end the real problem was the rain.  I just did not want to get wet!!  I moved out to the side and drove off, quickly followed by all of the vehicles stacked up behind.

It was unfortunately an easy enough decision, but the moment I had made it and committed myself, it became obvious that it was also the wrong decision.  The Holy Spirit sends us circumstances and asks us to serve.  Instead, we serve our own desires.  How foolish we are.  The problem was that there was pressure to make a decision from the weight of traffic behind me, tied with a sense of responsibility.  I felt a need to clear the roadway.  The pressure gave a decision that had to be made within about half a second.  Then having made the decision there was no going back.  How amazing it is that there is so often so little time for the important decisions.  They just come out of us, and the sad reality is that they show the heart.  They show what I am really like – as against what my self-conceit would have me believe about myself.

“What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom 7:24-25 NIV)  It is at times like this that the Holy Spirit shows us very gently how much we need the salvation of our God.  We have this tendency of thinking that Salvation is only from Hell.  It is from Hell, but it is also from my ‘self’.  That which is in me that wishes life to revolve around me, to be comfortable for me, to enjoy myself.  It is the body of death.  As a very astute friend pointed out, there is no actual law against selfishness.  One could obey the 10 commandments in a state of extreme selfishness, but in reality one would be far from the law of Love that Jesus gave to us.  One would be standing the life of Christ on its head.  Yet to turn aside from this selfishness is more than we are capable of, ‘self’ after all cannot kill self.  No the way forwards can only come through Jesus’ salvation.  Through appealing to him in prayer and looking for him to change us from the inside out.