While finishing up my dinner preparations the other evening, I suddenly heard the screeching of brakes and the sickening sound of crushing metal. One neighbor and myself ran up the hill behind our homes to see two cars with smashed front ends and steam flowing from the damaged vehicles. In one car the airbag had deployed leaving the stunned driver dazed and in a bit of shock as he helplessly walked around surveying the damage. One neighbor reported hearing him remorse over the fact that his actions would now directly impact the lives of six others (at least!).
Having experienced several unfortunate accidents myself throughout my years both as a passenger and as a driver, I can totally understand the pain he felt and the wisdom of his words. It is very true that when we are somehow involved in an accident, there are always many more lives around us that will somehow be impacted, whether it be family members who had need of the ruined vehicle or the driver of the other vehicle and her family. Insurance companies, police, and tow truck drivers will all have their part to play as things are cleared up and the debris is swept away. Attempting to replace the ruined vehicles and any necessary medical care will involve a whole new set of dealings and negotiations.
As I meditated on all the many ways our lives are impacted by the actions of others, the Holy Spirit reminded me of how choices we make on this earth can have the same type of implications and impact upon others. I recall a time in my teenage years when, as a brand new Christian, I still struggled with the desire to be better accepted by my peers.
One Friday, after a drama performance, I was invited to a party for all the cast and crew. Though the Holy Spirit was screaming in my head not to go, I decided to heed the much inferior counsel of my friends who insisted I would have a “good time.” That night, my own ignorance led to the consumption of alcohol and some rather foolish behavior. When I woke up the next morning, I was overcome with guilt and shame. Though I knew I was loved by The Lord, my poor choices in mimicking the cheap thrills of the world opened the door to an onslaught of spiritual attacks against me that lasted quite a while.
In addition to my own personal pain, I soon found that others who had seen me that night at the party suddenly became convinced that all my talk of Jesus was a lie and I was nothing more than a hypocrite! The agony of knowing that I had not only hurt myself, but seriously wounded the fragile hope in those who were looking for a way of escape set me in a downward spiral of depression.
Yes, many lives were impacted by my own foolishness.
The discipline of The Lord was painful at the time, as He simply allowed me to suffer the consequences of not heeding His voice, however, the pain from that valuable lesson granted me the wisdom and conviction to not make that same mistake again! I began to learn how to live in joys of heaven by copying the pattern of life established in the Bible.
It took me many more years to finally understand that it was not my good behavior that brought me the real peace and joy I was seeking, but rather understanding the goodness and grace extended to me through Jesus. When I look upon His goodness, then my behavior changes as I become aligned with heaven.
In returning to the recent car accident, I’m sure the decision to turn when he did made perfect sense as that young man felt very confident in his own abilities to avoid oncoming traffic…up until the moment of impact. I also felt very confident in my own decision to ignore the counsel of the Holy Spirit that night of the party. I felt sure I could have fun and become more popular…until the whole thing backfired on me.
There truly is a way that appears to be right at the moment, but then there is a way that is eternally right and leads to an overflow of benefits both now and in the ages to come!