When was the last time you were convicted to do something, and knew that you couldn’t advance until you acted on the conviction?
If you’re a Christian, or even a person of conscience, it probably happens frequently. I know it does for me. Just this week I had one of my recurring encounters with a McDonald’s bag on the way to work.
This story all starts in the spring of 2000 when the youth group I was pastoring was preparing to put on an evangelistic, high school outreach at my alma mater in Dryden, NY. We’d been praying for a move of God’s spirit in our town that would effect the teen culture, and subsequently decided that praying wasn’t enough.
I wasn’t advocating that we cease praying, but rather that we add proactive steps to our prayers by organizing.
This meant a band, speaker, audio, lights, prayer teams, response cards, Bibles and anything else we could think of. Similarly, and without my leading, the teens of our fledgling church decided to start meeting nightly to pray for the event. We wanted to see Dryden cleaned up spiritually, for hearts to be plucked out of darkness and brought into glorious light.
During one of the many drives to the school, leading up to the event, I swerved to avoid a McDonald’s bag yard sale.
You know the kind.
Cheeseburger wrapper, french fries sleeve, cup-lid-straw and used napkins strewn all over the road.
My initial reaction to every McDonald’s yard sale I see is:
Seriously? How base of a human being do you have to be to litter so grossly? Did you not have a mother? Did your father never spank you as a kid? What’s wrong with you low-life, drive-by pavement assaulter, and where was the cop when this atrocity happened? Take the extra thirty seconds when you get home to empty your car out like a normal, sentient life form, and stop being so lazy!
(See why I need Jesus?).
Right about the time that I steered clear of this particular display of paper-product carnage, I felt the Holy Spirit tug at me.
Go back and pick it up.
I kept driving.
Pick it up.
Still driving. Waiting for more of his voice. But I just get…
Now that’s the worst, when God stops speaking to you because you and He both know what you need to do, and asking for his direction any further will only end in more silence until you do the first thing He instructed.
I slowed down, disgruntled, and did a U-turn. A moment later I’m bending over in the road, piling the litter back into the bag, and climbing in my car. No sooner do I shut the door than I sense these words rising in my soul:
So too will you clean up the spiritual aspects of your town. First the natural, then the spiritual.
It all made sense. How could the Lord entrust me with the superior if I couldn’t first demonstrate proficiency with the inferior? Over and over again in my life, I’ve seen this. It haunts me! He, the Holy Ghost, haunts me with it, and won’t leave me alone.
But I’m grateful for it, because without His conviction, I don’t become like Jesus, I just become more like myself. And I was also grateful for it the night, in my old high school gymnasium, that 350 teens came forward to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior for the first time.
The next time you see a McDonalds bag yard sale, think twice: God just might be releasing you into greater permission to effect your city.