Focal Passage: Genesis 50:15-21
Lynn pulled on her red fire suit, grabbed a black helmet, and slid through the window of the iconic number 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet race car. This wasn’t a mere photo op – this was her opportunity to harness several hundred horsepower and go tearing around the Nashville Superspeedway at 130 miles per hour. As a woman with a burning need for speed, my wife had dreamed of this kind of adventure, and it finally came true. Back on pit row after barreling around the 1.3 miles of concrete for a few laps, one of her first comments was very revealing about her experience behind the wheel: “The opening in the helmet is so small, you can see just what is right in front of you. But you have the spotter on the radio telling you where to go.”
Isn’t that reminiscent of life as you walk with God? Because we are working with vision that is severely limited by an earthly mindset, it is easy to become overconfident. We steal a quick glance, pick a line on the track that looks good, and accelerate away at breakneck speed. Forget the Holy Spirit that is talking in our ear and telling us where the dangers are, where we need to move to, whether to speed up or slow down. Really, who needs a spotter when you have so much skill and maturity to offer? Who? Anyone who is limited by their earthly mindset.
As we look back over Joseph’s life, he could have adopted any one of several vision-limiting outlooks. Promiscuity was available with Potiphar’s wife. Isolation could have ruled his thoughts and led him to be a loner rather than risk further hurt and betrayal. Materialism would have been easy since he had been placed in charge of the entire nation of Egypt. Joseph, though, chose a mindset of great expectation. His expectancy originated with his teenage dreams, and, despite disappointments and bitter situations, he knew in his heart God was going to fulfill those prophetic promises. Daniel 11:32 (NKJV) declares, “The people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.” Commentator Jon Courson said, “The more I know about the Lord, the more faith I’ll have to do great things for him.”
Doing great things for Him includes responsibilities. Specific directives are given during the drivers’ meeting before hitting the track: “Listen to your spotter and follow his instructions.” In our case, a willingness to trust and follow God’s commands requires a mindset of obedience. Drivers who refuse to obey the spotter’s commands get black-flagged and sent back to the pits where a stern discussion is awaiting. An ‘everything is permissible’ worldly mindset tells us to ignore our spotter, the Holy Spirit, and to race through life without restrictions. This is where the caution flag should come out. God said, “You are living among a people who refuse to obey.” (Ezekiel 12:2 (NCV) Former White House counsel Chuck Colson noted, “Never confuse the will of the majority with the will of God.”
Finally, overcoming our worldly thinking also requires us to embrace a mindset of immediacy. When Potiphar’s wife attempted to seduce him, Joseph immediately refused by responding, “How could I do such a great evil and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9 HCSB) No delay. When Joseph saw the downcast faces of Pharaoh’s butler and baker after their dreams, he immediately spoke to them with true concern. No delay. Pastor Clark Tanner spoke of how delay affects a follower’s heart by commenting, “The believer who answers the ‘today’ of the Holy Ghost with the ‘tomorrow’ of some more convenient season, knows not how he is hardening his heart.”
One race. Run it well. Park the old vision-limiting mindset by embracing expectation, obedience, and immediacy. Then, listen for your spotter’s instructions and enjoy the ride! (Mark 4:39 HCSB).
— Richmond is pastor of New Life Church, Nashville.