Spiritual GPS

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Proverbs 16:9…”In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”

There is an old joke/wisdom that goes something like this (paraphrased)…A terrible hurricane was underway and storm surge began flooding a Godly man’s home. The water kept getting higher until all he could do was stand on his roof. He was full of faith and trusted the Lord would save him. Along came a rescue boat and they called out to the faithful man, “Grab this rope and we’ll take you to safety, Sir!” The man replied, “No thank you, the Lord is going to save me.” The rescuers moved to the next house. The water was now lapping over the roof and around his ankles. Here came another rescue boat just in time. “Grab the rope, Sir! You don’t have much time!” The man said, “No thank you! I trust in my Lord. Only he will save me!” The rescuers moved on. All of a sudden a Coast Guard helicopter appeared and down dropped a brave young rescuer to save the man. “Hold onto me, Sir. I’ll take you to safety!” The man was annoyed. “How many times do I have to say it??? The Lord will save me. Leave me alone!” The Coast Guard flew away. Now the water was crashing over the roof and the man was swept away in a huge wave. He drowned. The man arrived at the Pearly Gates and there was Peter. The man was angry and he said, “Hey, Peter…what happened there??? Y’all let me drown!” Peter replied…”We sent you 2 boats and a helicopter. What more did you want?”

Spiritual GPS is every bit as important as the global positioning system we’ve all grown so dependent on in this century. How do we know which way to go? It’s been my experience that it’s always the most simple direction staring us right in the face. But like the man in the story our faith is blinded by our own will. “In their hearts humans plan their own course.”

When I was 25 years old I felt certain my life course was all but set in stone. My career path had 2 options – one in business and one in music. I applied my time to both equally. I wanted music but kept business as my safety net. A man divided cannot stand, but I wasn’t smart enough to understand that yet. In my personal life, I was in a serious relationship that seemed for life. My home was in my birthplace and I didn’t believe that would ever change. The only outcome yet to be decided was the final career path. God’s steps never entered my equations.

Just 10 years later every single thing about my life was different. Not one thing left unchanged. Not in a million years would I have guessed any of the changes. First, God took me out of one relationship, cleared my mind, and then into the one he chose for me. As if literally coming straight down from heaven, this woman appeared in my lap. We’ve been together ever since. Then he sent a pastor into my life to open my eyes to my creator. It had never been effectively done by any other human, but this one succeeded. Then God transitioned me away from my own music pursuits and into service of his. I was in the first wave of “praise band” musicians that changed the face of the modern church. I went from playing original music in music venues and bars, to playing a beat up electronic kit (gasp) with a black gospel piano man/vocalist in church. “What? How did I get here?” The next thing I know life spun another circle, and I found myself a married dad of 2 children and living far away from my birthplace. Business gone. Music as a career gone. Past relationships gone. I was completely remade. A blank slate. “Start over,” my spiritual GPS spoke.

I’m now nearly 15 years past God’s hitting of my reset button. I have a fully different life in an entirely different place. Like I was placed in God’s witness protection program. The Lord establishes their steps. If we look at it from the Godly perspective it’s…”We can do this the easy or hard way. What’s it going to be?” I can just hear a guardian angel saying to another…”Why do they always choose the hard way?” Then they take the wrecking ball to our plans.

Are you surrounded by God’s signs and ignoring them like the man in the story? We are all guilty of this repeatedly in life. The way we learn to hone our spiritual senses to God’s direction is by putting our souls deeply into relationship with him. There is no shortcut to this. It requires daily prayer and daily scripture study. If your knees haven’t knelt in worship and prayer and your bible is covered in dust, it’s certain you’re trying to plan your own course. God is going to place his chosen where he sends them no matter what. It’s far more difficult when we aren’t in contact with him to understand the directions. Much of our misery is connected to this failing of our faith. Like the picture above, no matter how deeply we are buried, God is giving us directions. Can we see them?

Take some time reflecting on your past plans and what the reality you have today is. Find God among the changes and how he guided your path. Go back in your mind and try to spot the rescue boats he sent and were ignored. The people who came to warn us. The things placed in our lives that tried to change the course but we wouldn’t have it. God wants to prosper us and use us. He cannot when we are in rebellion. The consequences to rebellion is misery in one form or another. Some of the seemingly most fortunate people on earth are in reality in absolute misery. Kanye West comes to mind as a current example. Fame and wealth is overflowing with miserable humans. We can only find true peace and contentment, as well as purpose, when we are following the path our creator intends for us.

So what’s it going to be? The easy way or the hard way? Consider this post a rescue boat sent your way. Don’t blame Peter at the gate if you fail to grab the rope.

Gary Abernathy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burning Coals

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Proverbs 25: 21-22…”If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.”

When God began to in earnest put me in, “God Boot Camp,” as I often describe it to myself, the first place my eyes were taken was the book of Proverbs. They’ve been in Proverbs ever since. Day after day, one each day, a repeating cycle of 31 Proverbs teaching me how to get along with the world as a child of God that doesn’t belong in it. A few things maybe I was doing right before boot camp, but for the most part, I’ve had it all wrong my entire life. None more so than Proverbs 25.

In my worldly mind, my enemy was my enemy, and while be it I’ve never been a particularly vindictive man, I certainly wasn’t going out of my way to help or feel sorry for said enemy. I saw them or it with strictly worldly eyes…only seeing the surface my physical capabilities could take in. Solomon’s wisdom is teaching us here that our enemy is but one thing, and it’s never what we can actually see with our human eyes. It’s the roaring lion, the serpent, it’s…Satan. That’s it.

Recently I was traveling from Florida to North Carolina by car while the ridiculously named, Winter Storm Jonas, was in progress on the entire east coast of the United States. The forecasters got this one right and it was a monster winter storm. With cold air and even snow flurries pushing all the way down to Florida, it was a highly unusual cold and miserable morning in Central Florida. I had stopped to pump gas in a tiny town between Gainesville and Jacksonville, and those of us doing so were not prepared for having to stand out in that while filling our cars. As strangers bonding in a winter-war-like fashion, we were laughing and talking to each other about how crazy it was to be freezing like that in Florida. It took about 3 minutes to fill a nearly empty tank. Then we got back in our warm cars. “Oh, how they suffered,” maybe Jesus said with sarcastic humor. I kept moving up the road until I came to Baldwin, Florida, which is where this journey would connect with I-10 East. I’ve traveled this road so many times I could do it blindfolded, and I know full well that the interstate entrance ramp at this particular junction is one of the busiest in the state. There are several truck stops off the exit, so getting on I-10 here is usually a lengthy wait. Because of this, the homeless and poor use that fact to make this a prime panhandling spot.

Due to the terrible weather and it being a Saturday morning, traffic was unusually light. Yet, as I approached the traffic light and entrance ramp, per usual there stood a panhandler. By his side was pit bull mix dog just sitting there in the cold by his friend, with a somewhat determined look on his dog face. As I got closer I noticed this guy was not your standard issue appearing panhandler. He was young, his face didn’t look like a baseball glove, and he at least didn’t appear to be to mentally unstable. What he did appear to be was very cold, as well he should have been. He had a smile and a cardboard sign promoting whatever the reason was he wanted a handout. I didn’t even read it. But I did notice he had his teeth still. Pretty rare in this situation.

The typical worldly reaction in that scenario is to think or say, “Look at this clown, out here begging for other people’s hard earned money, instead of working for it himself.” I’ve said that same thing many times in my life. But I didn’t say that this time, nor did I think it. God was bee lining me right to him. What I was thinking was Proverbs 25. There is my enemy. There stands Satan. Not the young man, not his dog friend, but the things I couldn’t see with my physical eyes. The reasons that put him standing there in the cold that morning for me to come upon. The things that were separating him from God. What am I to do? Heap burning coals on the head of my enemy.

Because there was nobody else there in that moment, I was able to stop in the turn lane, roll my window down, and engage him more than to just toss a dollar at him. He was surprisingly upbeat and friendly. We laughed about the cold and I encouraged him to quickly get out of it. I handed him more money than he would ever expect to get from me, and it lit him up with God’s glory. “Thank you! We (the dog) can go back to our tent and we’re staying in there the rest of the day.” He blessed ME first…both verbally and by his reaction. “Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land.” Proverbs 25:25. He embodied that verse entirely. God allowed me to be the good news that morning. But both of us rejoiced. We then told each other that God loves the other. Then off I went to continue my journey up the road.

Our enemy we are fighting is not the living thing God has sent us to engage…to be his light for. It’s the things Satan has used to put them there and to keep them held down in his dominion of bleak hopelessness. This is why we are not to judge less we be judged. It’s a very difficult lesson to learn. The world will never teach you that. Ever.

Who do you view as your enemies in life? What do you see in them? How do you react and engage? Chances are, it’s all wrong, and that’s why nothing is changing or getting better. Blessings are not flowing. I’m learning this lesson each day by God’s grace. Why? Because the Holy Spirit is my leader, my teacher, and my friend…nothing else will do. Jesus Christ is my salvation and hope. God is my father and I call him such.

Go to your knees in prayer and ask for the Spirit to teach you how to live for his glory. Your worldview will never again be the same.

Gary Abernathy

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