When I was 16 I got my first car. It was a 1987 Pontiac Sunbird with a little spoiler on the back. It was bright red 4 cylinder with cloth grey interior equipped with a factory delco tape deck. When I first got it I was so very proud of it that I literally washed it all the time, probably daily. I would get it all shined up and layer black magic on the tires to give em that slimy shiny new-look. I would vacuum it, armor all the dash, windex the glass and THEN I would always dangle those little yellow trees from the mirror to make it smell like vanilla, yes I am a wierdo, always have been.
I loved that Sunbird but I couldn’t help but make a few “improvements.” I lowered it, tinted the windows on it and put a bumpin’ system in it. Some J&L audio 12’s in a isobaric box to be exact(can’t I get witness??) I’d buy the latest cassette from the Sound Shop…. some LL Cool J or Mellow Man Ace, D-Nice, Techmaster PEB and push those speakers to their max. I can still hear the rattling of my trunk and see my dash lights dimming when the bass hit hard. I’d say those times contributed to my hearing loss today, but I digress. We lived in the kind of town that “crusin” from the mile long strip from the Shady Brook Cinema to the Kroger was an every Friday night event. We’d all drive our decked out cars and pull over at Kroger to talk or better yet, we’d race out to the Stockyard to witness a fight between rival students. Those were simpler times in a little middle Tennessee Town of Columbia back in the late 80’s, early 90’s.
This all came to my mind recently and I recalled driving around in my 1987 Sunbird and I remembered I had begun to notice something I’d never noticed before… I noticed there were ALOT of 1987 Sunbirds were in Columbia. I felt like every other car I saw was a a Sunbird, maybe a different color, maybe different wheels but nevertheless there were a lot of Pontiac Sunbirds. In retrospect they were probably there all the time but after I got mine and started driving it, I noticed other people driving them all the time too!! (That’ll Preach)
This got me thinking, where else have I seen this pattern? Have you ever heard the phrase “if you spot it, you got it.” ? This is a simple way to put words on the fact that if In fact you notice something (a mannerism, a character “flaw”) about someone else, typically something that annoys you, then it’s probably an issue or something that reminds you of….yourself. Even better was the old adage that “if you smelt it, you dealt it.” Meaning the person of accusing the other of flatulence is probably the guilty party, right?
So, I began to think on something Jesus said (Odd transition I know) He was talking to his Disciples as he was about to leave the earth. He said “in a little while the world will not see me, but you will see me because I live, you live.” Basically why I take from it as he was saying was. Ok, physically I’m not going to be around anymore but you’ll see me alive in you in others around you like yourself.” I know that sounds a little weird but I think what Jesus us saying is that we will “spot it if we got it.” We will know others who are alive the way that we’re alive!! (This could go the other way too) He even said don’t be confused, you will know people who are connected with me because you will see their love for humanity and all creation. Sounds a little crazy but think about this. Who comes to mind when you think of a person who loves humanity? Mother Teresa, Bono, Al Gore lol? and the list could go on. Who is it that seems connected in a way that you want to be connected ?
Around my house we have a little letter board that my wife changes every couple of months to reflect something that is relevant around our household. Our board currently reads “Love is Verb.” You might automatically be brought back to that old DC Talk song, which is the jam btw, but what I hope this letter board will help us keep in the forefront of our minds is that love is not just a feeling but it’s an action statement. What I hope to remember when I read it is “how can I best love those around me.” That starts will the people right in front of me, my wife, the 4 kids, the next door neighbor and everywhere else that God puts me in contact with people. What does that look like?
I think I make the common mistake of just saying “I love you bro.” And I feel like I’m sincere, and that’s good but it’s not where I should stop!! When I see someone struggling it’s not ok for ME to simply say “I love you, and I’m praying for you.” That’s all fine and good and has it’s place but I have to back that phrase up with action. I see the need and try to meet it. It’s hard, it’s uncomfortable and often is very inconvenient but I believe that’s the posture God is asking me to have at all times. To be love but with feet, to be prepared to act like I love someone, not simply talk about it. I’m sure we could get in a debate about boundaries and codependency and blah blah but this is something God reminds me to do personally, so apply it as the spirit stirs you…(that’s for another blog)
I think about the life of Jesus and what his ministry looked like on Earth. It was very atypical of someone who would be referred to as “King.” Jesus modeled the life he calls us to live, he was the chief servant of all mankind. This flips the idea of kings and kingdoms on its head. His way of life was and is simply revolutionary. His example was to lead others and show them God love for them by serving. I’m drawn to the image in my mind of Jesus washing the disciples feet right before he was crucified. One of examples of Kingdom Living on earth was to serve them and show them that it was also their mission to do likewise. I could go on, but I feel like I said what I needed to be said there…
So, then I was thinking about my 1987 Pontiac Sunbird in all its glory and I had this final thought. If (and that’s a big IF) I am truly plugged into what Jesus was/is about then it will kind of be like my Sunbird when I started driving, HE will begin to appear to me more frequently and seem to be everywhere. That is if I become aware of where God is at work in me, then I will recognize it in you and everyone. I think that’s true of all of us. Jesus said in John 14 that if he lives that we will live also and we will see him. I am coming to see that if I want to know where God is truly at work then I will look for where people are serving others or there are opportunities for me to serve. However, it’s NOT just limited to church services, homeless shelters, poverty stricken countries and underserved areas etc. I believe God has called us to serve wherever we are in this very moment! I think If we truly get in the drivers seat and start where we are THEN we will begin to see more and more opportunities to love and serve and people with a heart to do likewise. I pray that my eyes be opened to see and take advantage of opportunities to carry out Kingdom Living and show God’s love!! In the meantime I think I saw Jesus in a pimped out Chevy Cavelier with fuzzy dice on the mirror and he was bumpin hard yo! I hope you can hear it too!