(Photo by Selma Komisky)
Driving My Heart
By Marta Oliveira
“For God has not called us to impurity but to holiness [to be dedicated and set apart by behavior that pleases Him, whether in public or in private].”
– 1Thessolains 4:7 (AMP)
“Whether in public or in private,” I like the way it is said that our behavior should be one that pleases God, regardless of where or with whom we are. I spend a fair amount of time on my own, so private for me means me, myself, and God! But, I bet for many of you it’s different. Maybe your private sphere includes your family or most trusted friends. In any case, the calling is to be consistent, and that’s what I would like to speak about.
I am a driver. I wasn’t always, but since I moved to an isolated place, it became part of my daily life. Today it is something that I really enjoy doing, but it wasn’t always like that. In fact, I failed my driving test twice and only got my license by the third attempt! Then, one weekend, driving my sister’s car, I almost had a major crash! That was it for me. I never drove again for the next 10 years (or more!) until I absolutely had to. So you can imagine how uncomfortable and even stressed I felt when I got back to it. Every time I was going out, I made sure I knew exactly where to go, what route to take, and even where to park. Everything was planned and my senses were on high alert all the time. Only once driving back home and away from the busy city center, I would start to feel more relaxed and at ease. It was on one of those times that I had a silent conversation between me, myself… and God. Approaching the last turn before arriving, I realized that the road was completely empty. No cars, no souls. Suddenly, this thought crossed my mind, ‘Well, nobody is here, just relax there’s no need to do the turning sign’. But, immediately, another thought followed, ‘It’s the right thing to do, you need to do it even if no one else sees’. I know this is so simple and sounds silly, but this wasn’t (just!) about driving. This thought was about walking with God. It was about the need to be consistent.
You see, what I do when nobody else is watching matters. What I say and, most profoundly, how I think, matters. My commitment to do the right thing shouldn’t change if the road is empty or full, or, in other words, if I am in private or in public. The calling is to be distinct all the way through, and that is a process. Like driving, everyday challenges or choices, even (or mostly!) the little ones that no one but God sees, are an opportunity for learning and change. And what is being changed in this process is not what surrounds me, but rather what’s inside of me. Indeed, my heart is where the real change happens. Often, I remember what Jesus says in Matthew 12:34, that the mouth speaks of what fills the heart. I don’t know about you, but I think my heart is always full. The question is with what. Is it good or evil? Is it love or hate? Does it please God or not? You see what I mean? At the core of this calling stands the condition of the heart. And taking care of it requires consistency, not only in different settings, but also throughout time – day in and day out.
In the same way I wanted to skip the turning sign, sometimes in the comfort of privacy, it might be easier to relax and allow feelings, or words, or any other thing that doesn’t honor God to fill the heart. But that’s exactly when that second thought pops up, like a gentle warning from the Holy Spirit saying, ‘Hey you, turn around, do the right thing’. The choice, however, is always up to me. Do I keep going the way I was, or do I embrace the process and allow God to change me in the most private sphere of all: my heart.