Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Brake-Check of a Lifetime

Have you ever been brake-checked before? If you're unfamiliar with the term it refers to what happens when you are driving down the highway, usually at high speeds, and someone pulls in front of you and intentionally, without notice, slams on their brakes or slows down considerably, forcing you to slam on your brakes in order to avoid a dangerous collision. Well, yesterday I was driving on the highway on my way to a performance when someone two cars in front of me hit the brakes without warning, forcing me and the car in front of me to hit our brakes. Now I don't think this car was trying to do a brake-check, but for some reason the experience got me thinking about them. And I found myself smiling as I wondered if God would ever like to do a brake check on any of us.

See, most of us live life in the fast lane, as the the famous song reminds us. We are speeding from one task to another with no time to stop or even slow down. And I wonder as God watches us racing around, trying to fit more and more activity into the same 24 hour period, if He ever doesn't get the desire to do a brake-check on us -- to throw something in our path that makes us slow down, that makes us hit the brakes, that makes us remember that we have more than just a gas pedal at our disposal.

Strangely, not too long after I began thinking about this, I turned on the radio and was listening to a broadcast about Phil Visser, the creator of Veggie Tales. He was talking about how one night, while Veggie Tales was at the height of its popularity and he was working very hard to produce more and more videos and DVDs, he was sitting in his bed reading his Bible. He came upon the verses in Galatians 5:22-23 about the fruit of the Spirit. He read them and realized that he didn't have any of them. He said to his wife, "If this is what makes you a Christian, than I don't think I am one!" Here he was spending his life (and all his waking hours!) producing and creating videos for Christian audiences, and he wasn't even sure if he was a Christian himself. He had more stress and worry in his life than peace and joy.

Not long after that, I think God did a brake check on him. The Veggie Tales empire he had created came crashing down. He went from having realized his dream and seeing it reach the pinnacle of success to watching as it all came tumbling down around him. Over the next few months, he spent a lot of time in the Word and in prayer. He said that he finally discovered what it meant to walk with God. He'd been so busy trying to do something for God that he had never discovered what it meant to walk with God. Because Veggie Tales was his dream, the desire to see that dream come to fruition had practically consumed him, making him stressed and worried all of the time.

He shared that there are some questions that produce stress in our lives. They are: "How much? How many? How soon?" He said that if you are asking yourself these questions than you are probably going to become a person who is stressed out and worried rather than peaceful and joyful and all of the other good things that are gifts of the Spirit. He shared that those questions are often part of the building of a human empire rather than an empire based on God's values.

God doesn't want His children stressed and worried all the time. He knows that in that condition we cannot be a blessing to others. I know that I've asked myself some of those questions in just the last few months related to my own life and dreams, especially the how soon. I'm not always the most patient person, and I want everything to happen now, even if it means trying to do too many things simultaneously! I'm going to remember those questions though, and I'm going to use Galatians 5:22-23 as a touchstone. If something is getting in the way of me producing the fruit of the Spirit, then it has to go. Hopefully, I'll learn how to hit the brakes in the areas in which I'm going too fast or wanting too much so that God doesn't have to do a brake-check on me.

But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
-- Galatians 5:22-23

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