Wednesday March 24 – Day 36 – BRIGHT LIGHTS

 In Lenten Devotional

Wednesday March 24 – Day 36 – BRIGHT LIGHTS

“14-16 Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing.” – Philippians 2:14-16 (MSG)

“14 Do everything without complaining and arguing, 15 so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. 16 Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless.” – Philippians 2:14-16 (NLT)

Doing anything readily and cheerfully during the pandemic is an impossible feat.  Especially today.

After dropping Rose-Frances to work, and making sure Riley was up for his 8:30 class, I went out to pick up a few groceries.  On the way home, the “D” on the dashboard (which indicates the gear the car is in) began to flash. After almost 40 years of driving, I have never experienced THAT before.  I also knew that it probably wasn’t good.

I hate cars.  If you ask me, they are a necessary evil that we have to endure.  Some people love cars:  they love everything about them.  For me, as long as it works I am happy.  But when it doesn’t work, or acts up, I begin to complain.  Big time.

I called the shop and spoke to my main man, Brian.  He told me that I should bring it down as soon as possible as it sounded like something to do with the transmission.

The T word.

I have lived though many vehicles in my life where the transmission failed.  The last one was what I would consider probably one of my least favourite vehicles:  a Blue Montana van (which replaced our favourite maroon Montana van that got rear ended in Pennsylvania when we were driving back from our New York City trip).  When transmission problems happen it is never good.  However we love this car and I have vowed to get the transmission fixed as it is worth it to get it done.

Dealing with cars (whether I am driving them or dealing with them) makes me angry.  I don’t know what it is – you can ask Rose-Frances – but I become a different man behind the wheel.  I also become a different man when I am dropping off a vehicle and waiting to hear about it’s impending death or expensive repair.

Complaining about a vehicle is a pastime that I inherited from my father.  I remember when my Mum and Dad were going to get a used vehicle for me to use to drive in to McMaster every day for my first year.  My Dad was not the greatest wheeler and dealer, and he always looked at the price of a vehicle as opposed to looking at the condition.  We bought a Mercury Bobcat (which was known as the “Me_cury Bo_cat” as it was missing those letters on emblem on the rear end of the car).  The car was a piece of junk which lasted a year if that.  We called it the Flinstones car, because the floor board in the back seat was rusted out and you could see the road (again, not the safest vehicle I ever drove).

But the “Bo_cat” wasn’t the least safe vehicle I ever drove.  That award is given to one of my favourite vehicles (and I don’t know why): the 1974 Gold Duster.

The Gold Duster did a few very interesting things.  When you would make a left turn, the car would stall.  So my Dad taught me how to make the turn, put the car in neutral and then restart the car as I was making my way out of the left turn.  My friends were always impressed that I could do it so flawlessly but as they say, practice makes perfect.

The other interesting thing at the end of the life of the Gold Duster was that it would overheat.  I suspect the rad was gone and my Dad decided he was not putting any more money in the car.  I had a summer job on a farm in Vineland so it meant I had to take the QEW from Grimsby to Vineland which was about a 20 minute drive.  I would drive on the highway for about 10 minutes and then the car began to overheat.  My Dad taught me how to pull over, grab a large rag, open the rad (which at this point was squealing and bellowing white smoke from the front of the car) and run away from the car, let the car cool down, fill it with a jug of water, grab the very warm cap with the rag, close it and make my way for the second half of my journey.  I did this two times every day that summer.

The interesting thing is that looking back on it, I was glad my Dad allowed me to do this.  I am sure my Mum was never told what I was doing because I was her baby and was very much protected (being the baby and the only boy).  That experience taught me that I didn’t have to be scared of vehicles and that I actually could face challenges positively and do the best with what I am given.  In those days, I never complained because I expected the car to overheat.  I was simply surviving.

Nowadays I don’t have to worry about survival and because of it, i can easily get into the habit of complaining.  It is easy to argue with someone about ministry or music and yet I forget that my attitude (my complaining and arguing) is being viewed by others.  I sometimes fail to remember that when I call myself a Jesus follower that people will watch my actions to see if they line up with the carpenter born in Bethlehem.

And as we have seen, Christians have been criticized (and quite fairly) because of the their actions during the pandemic.

The world sees Christians as complaining and arguing about having their rights infringed upon.  They won’t wear a mask because it is the government imposing a fascist policy upon them and that isn’t “Christian”.

The world sees Christians complaining about lockdowns and restrictions, that the big bad government won’t allow us to meet and worship in person.  We have a “right” to meet and worship.  It is part of our constitutional rights, some of our American friends would say.

Where in the Gospel does it say that we have to make sure our rights are honoured by a government or a society?

The last time I checked, the government in Jesus’ day put Him to death.

Jesus never said, “Blessed are those who complain, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven” so why do we feel complaining and arguing about ANYTHING is worthwhile?

It isn’t.

Complaining and arguing uses up too much energy and emotion in my mind, and I am so tired of complaining when things don’t go my way.

So now I am thinking the worst for our beloved CRV and I am looking at Auto Trader ads at new used cars and called my mechanic to ask him, “So if it is the transmission and we can’t drive it, do I have to get CAA to tow it to the transmission shop?”  (I am asking this because when you are a one car family, that one car decides the fate of the entire family and their schedules. During the pandemic, getting your car repaired has been a challenge).

Yes, I am crazy.  I am a believer who loves to complain it seems.  And I am at my wit’s end and I am ready for a change.

Church, the world is watching, whether we want to believe it or not.  It is crucial that we live lives that not only honour the truths of God but also respect the lives of those we do not know.  We are not living to PLEASE them, or doing things to make them like us.  We are living a life that is God honouring and therefore one that does not include complaining or arguing.

Let us go out into the world uncorrupted and may we be a breath of fresh air in this polluted world.

May we share with the world what a God honouring life looks like:  one that good and directs others to Jesus.

Let us hold onto the truth of God’s word that it may bring light into the dark places, and inspire those walking in darkness to turn to Jesus.

Let us be living proof, Bright Lights, that God exists and that He loves us.

When we complain, our light diminishes bit by bit until all we are left with is bitterness and hate.

Church, be Bright Lights in a time of selfishness and darkness.

Be Bright Lights in a time that is filled with bleakness and despair.

Be Bright Lights, allowing the Holy Spirit to shine from you into this world that is struggling without Jesus.

Currently I am still awaiting word on the CRV but I am not going to complain or argue. I am blessed that we have such a great vehicle and I am hoping that it can be easily fixed.  I will not let a vehicle’s life or death get in the way of sharing God’s love with others.  Even though I love this vehicle, it is just a metal box on four wheels.  The people that I come into contact with that will be fixing and repairing the vehicle are more important and how I respond makes a difference.

Be Bright Lights to a world not celebrating Lent and who don’t have any idea what it truly means.  Be the loving and compassionate bridge between the world and Jesus.

See you tomorrow church (and yes, I will keep you posted on the CRV!)

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