A car is not generally made with two steering wheels because it would be pointless. A single car cannot go in two different directions at the same time; so, it would not make sense to equip a car for two simultaneous drivers. Different people can certainly drive the same car but never at the same time. Likewise, our hearts were also made to be controlled by one person. In this metaphor your heart/mind/body is the car but unlike the car you get to choose who your driver will be at every given moment.
Last Sunday at church something very unusual happened, my youngest child fell asleep when it was time for the sermon. This so rarely happens that I was genuinely excited. I was going to hear God’s Word without interruption! As I sat and took notes during the message the preacher quoted part of a verse, that I am very familiar with, to emphasize a point he was making. He referenced Ephesians 5:18 and said, “be filled with the Spirit.” That day the preacher happened to be my husband and I sat there for a moment wondering why he didn’t use the entire verse which goes like this:
“And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.”
I was thinking that the entire verse supported what he was saying so why did he leave out the first part of the verse? Surely, the first part could be helpful to someone and again it only further enhanced his point. Now let me be transparent and tell you one of my many faults: there are verses in the Bible that I often subconsciously label “For Other People” or FOP because I feel like they don’t apply to me. This had been one of those verses because I really don’t drink anymore so the chances of me being drunk or controlled by wine [alcohol] are slim to none. So in the past, whenever I read over this passage I didn’t even try to apply it to myself. As I sat there in the pew for only a few seconds critiquing my husband a question popped into my mind: “What are you filled with at home the majority of the time? Is it the Holy Spirit?” Like any pitiful, self-righteous Christian I quickly tried to dismiss the question and refocus on the message. Then it occurred to me that this may not be a random thought but the Holy Spirit’s question. I had two choices, acknowledge His question and possibly get real uncomfortable or ignore His question and continue comfortably listening to my husband. By God’s grace alone, I answered the question and got real uncomfortable just as predicted. Weekday mornings at my house can be stressful. Usually it is just me getting three little kids out the door in time for school because my husband leaves the house by 5:30am. Before we leave the house every morning I pray with my children and usually we try to read a chapter in Proverbs. On more than one occasion before praying I have had to ask for forgiveness from my children and God for my behavior that morning. Most parents with multiple children can sympathize, but there is no excuse. During those stressful mornings, many times I am not being filled with the Holy Spirit; I’m being controlled by one of the other drivers: Impatience, Frustration, Anger or Worry.
At this point I’m squirming in the pew as I realize that Ephesians 5:18 is not just FOP – it is for me! Also, I realize this is why the Holy Spirit led my husband to leave out the first part of that verse, because He knew in my own arrogance I would ponder my husband’s choices and eventually get to where I am right now questioning myself. Since Sunday, I have asked myself many times, “Who is in control right now?” Usually the question pops into my head during or after one of my less than stellar parenting moments.
About three years ago, I studied and underlined the following verse in my Bible:
“Shall the ax boast itself against him who chops with it? Or shall the saw exalt itself against him who saws with it? As if a rod could wield itself against those who lift it up, or as if a staff could lift up, as if it were not wood!”
The tools are inanimate objects – they can do nothing without a controlling force. In the hands of someone skilled they can create and do wonderful things; in the hands of anyone less, the end result will always leaving you wanting for more. We are not inanimate objects but we are always controlled by something or someone. Again, unlike the car, the ax, the saw, the rod, or the staff, we have a choice as to who controls us. Many times, non-Christians will act like the tools in Isaiah, believing ignorantly they are in control of themselves. Christians have been called out of that darkness understanding that every moment of the day we need to be in submission to the One True God. Ultimately, being controlled by anything or anyone other than the Holy Spirit will always end in regret.
I leave you with the same question God asked me last Sunday, “What are you being filled with?”