Smoke Detector

Today I found a notebook in my drawer about which I had forgotten. I bought it at Logan Airport last year when I was waiting for Rachael to arrive from Maryland so that I could drive her home. Her flight had been delayed a few hours, and I wanted something to do. So I bought a notebook, and began writing.

I found that notebook today and started reading through it, and felt like sharing something on here that I had written:

June 22, 2009
….There’s a ringing noise that sounds like a smoke detector, and it’s extremely annoying. And there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s kind of like the Holy Spirit. You can’t ignore a smoke detector. The only way to stop the ringing is to fix the problem. You can turn the ringing off, but it’s only going to keep setting off until you get to the root of the problem. You need to find the source of the smoke and stop it. It’s a warning that something’s burning, and you need to deal with it before it bursts into flames. That’s kind of like the Holy Spirit’s presence in a believer’s life. “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” John 16:8. The Holy Spirit prods my heart when there’s a problem–when there’s sin present, kind of like a smoke detector that won’t stop ringing. I can try to ignore it or make a temporary change to silence the ringing for a while, but in reality I need to deal with the root of the problem. That means not just recognizing that I did something wrong and say, “I’m sorry, God. Forgive me. I’ll try not to do it again.” Because guess what? Most of the time I just turn around and do it again. I have to get to the root of the problem–I have to recognize the heart motivation behind my actions. Wanting to be a responsible person so that someone will see me as such.. or just so that people won’t think I’m lazy, is good motivation, but it’s not enough–it’s not the right motivation. That makes it the opposite, which is wrong–which means it can’t even be good, even if it might appear that way. So why is it that when I purpose to change my ways and be responsible…it doesn’t happen? …The truth is…at the core I am selfish, lazy, and self-seeking. I am a creature of comfort, and don’t think, a lot of the time, beyond the here and now. I don’t think about how my choices will affect me or others in the future, and somehow think I’m exempt from the consequences or that I don’t care…What I choose not to think about are the long-term consequences. When I choose to fall asleep downstairs and not get up and turn the TV off, I’m being lazy and selfish. I care more about myself than the fact that leaving the TV on will run up the electricity bill and put financial strain on my parents. However, what lies beneath all of this is ultimately the choice to serve God or self. And most of the time lately, self has won out. I have not been loving God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I have not been doing all to His glory…God is revealing to me that at the core, this is who I am. And graciously, the Holy Spirit is prodding harder. His voice isn’t as easy to ignore this time around…
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I realize this is not a perfect analogy. The Holy Spirit is not some annoying buzzer that goes off in my head, driving me nuts with no relief until the noise ceases. He’s so much more than that. He’s a person, a spirit (duh), with whom I am to interact. He wants to speak to me and guide me, and change me. And most of the time, His voice is more like a soft whisper than an obnoxious ringing. I just have to be walking close enough to Him to hear that voice. But thankfully, like I did say above, God loves me enough to allow His Spirit to press a little harder sometimes in certain areas when I need it. He is faithful.