There is a chorus our Sunday School children used to sing, “You’ve got to be plugged in, turned on, connected to the power...”
Thinking of this chorus, I recall when one of my sons was small and wanted to help me vacuum the house (somehow, he lost that desire when he got older!). I would give him one of the vacuum cleaner’s attachments, but didn’t have it connected to the vacuum cleaner. He would happily work beside me “cleaning” the stairs. Although we were both going through the same motions, only one was getting results. Being connected to the power source makes a BIG difference. Without the power of God’s Spirit in our lives, we cannot be effective Christians. We will just be going through the motions, with no results.
Then there is always that temptation to go just a little farther. The cord is stretched to the limit, but there’s that one corner you’re trying to reach! Suddenly the vacuum cleaner goes silent and you realize that the cord has been pulled from the outlet. Isn’t that how we all try to test the limits of God’s love? As we get farther and farther away from the power source, we try to reach for one more thing to satisfy, entertain, or further our earthly goals, and suddenly we find ourselves disconnected from God, the true source of our strength.
There is nothing more irritating than trying to vacuum with a loose connection. First it’s running, then it’s not! You wiggle the cord, and it starts running again, then off, then on, then off again. So it is with us when we don’t maintain a consistent spiritual connection through prayer and reading God’s Word. We become an irritating on again, off again Christian.
If the bag become too full of dirt, the vacuum cleaner becomes ineffective. If we take in too much of the corruption of this world, we will not be a very effective worker for the Kingdom of God. We may look the same and sound the same, but we are not getting the job done. We need to find a place of repentance and ask God to create in us a clean heart and renew a right spirit within us. Some vacuum cleaners come with a reset button. Fortunately for us, God supplies one as well: His Grace and Forgiveness.
Just as there are different attachments to use for special purposes, such as hard-to-reach spots, corners, blinds, and upholstery, God has provided spiritual tools to meet every need in our hearts and lives.
The next time you vacuum, reflect on these thoughts and assess if you are abiding in Christ, being effective, and making a difference in your world.
My alarm goes off at 6:00 a.m. and I sleepily turn it off. I am NOT a morning person, but I know I can’t put it on snooze, because we are driving this morning to a church about two hours away to minister. I feel my way to the shower to help me wake up, turning on the Keurig on my way. (My sweet husband put this in the bedroom so I could have my morning cup of coffee first thing. Not sure if he did this for me or for him.)
“You’re driving,” my husband says as we are headed out the door. I don’t mind, because I know he likes to take advantage of the time on the road to listen to hymns, meditate, and confirm what he feels that God would have him share with the church.
We no sooner get on I-270 East when we run into fog. Great! Knowing that I really don’t care to drive in iffy weather conditions, my husband offers to drive. I decline his generous offer and continue driving, figuring surely we would be clear of the fog as soon as we crossed the Mississippi River into Illinois . . .
Wrong! The bridge was actually clear of fog, but we hit fog again as soon as we crossed the river. My husband explained all about the reasons for fog, warm earth versus cooler air, cooler river so no fog, warm earth again so more fog, etc. I really didn’t care about the reasons, I just wanted to drive fog free. Surely, it would clear up in a few miles!
Wrong again! For 55 miles my thoughts went like this: Wow, above the fog the sky is so pretty this morning! Oops, another fog bank, better slow down. I know there was a car ahead of me, where did it go? Here’s a break in the fog, better speed up to make up for lost time, don’t want to be late for church. Good thing we always allow extra driving time for the unexpected. Oh, the sun is so pretty through the fog. I hope it hurries up and burns off this fog. This fog bank is pretty thick, I wonder how close that trailer truck is behind me! Hills and valleys, in and out of fog. I’m cresting another hill, sure hope there’s no pileup ahead, I’d never be able to stop in time, better slow down! Finally! No more fog, it sure is a beautiful day!
In reflection, I realize how this experience is so like walking by faith! We are in a time of transition, trying to figure out God’s will and direction for our lives. This is not a new thing for us. We have gone through many phases on our ministerial journey. We both had fathers who were ministers, so the pattern of our lives have similarities. Teaching Sunday School classes at a young age, following a call to ministry, starting new churches, working in the mission field, evangelizing, pastoring, teaching, and now evangelizing again.
Each new phase is like going through a fog bank. Are we going in the right direction? Are we going too fast or too slow? Shouldn’t we be through this valley already? I think this may be the direction God is leading us! No, maybe not . . . God, please protect us and direct us. We don’t want to get off on the wrong exit or miss the exit we are supposed to take!
Once again, I reflect on Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT): “ Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
And I keep on going, walking by faith . . .