The three of us were about ten blocks from our work’s parking garage. It was Ivy’s week to drive. She’s a careful driver.
Ivy and I were listening and commenting on what Ernie said as we journeyed to our jobs. Ernie stated, “Being a Christian isn’t about making sure I keep the rules. I do that, but it isn’t my motivation.”
“You mean you’re not motivated to keep the rules?” I asked playfully.
Ernie said, “It’s more than that. It’s bigger than that. It’s more important than that.”
Ivy had both hands on the steering wheel. Her left hand at 10:00 o’clock. Her right hand at 2:00 o’clock. She said, “Well, more important than what? Do you just ignore the rules?”
Ernie stared out the front window, his face passive, and from the passenger seat replied, “So why do I keep the rules? I keep the rules because of my relationship.”
“Relationship … what are you talking about?” I seriously wanted to know. Ivy waited for the red light to turn green.
Ernie pressed on, “I’m talking about my relationship with the Lord.”
“I don’t follow?” Ivy said.
“Here’s the thing,” Ernie said, “When you love someone you’ll do anything to please them, right?”
From the backseat I could see Ivy’s face in the rear-view mirror as she drove. I saw her left eyebrow rise in curiosity. “ ‘Um yes, I think that’s true.”
“Yes it’s true,” Ernie confirmed. “There’s nothing you wouldn’t do for your lover.”
I wasn’t sure. I wanted more information. “Can you give me an example?”
“Certainly. Take for instance self denial …”
“Self-denial … as in submission?” Ivy appeared offended as she stumbled over what Ernie said.
“That’s right. It’s not manipulating things to go my way. That’s self-denial. A willful surrender.”
“How is that possible?” I objected. “My inclination is to manipulate everything to my benefit!”
Ernie replied, “Again when you love someone you’re willingly cooperative, not manipulative.”
I conceded his point. “OK, I see that.”
“Because somehow I understand on some level that what I want isn’t necessarily the best that’s available for me.” Ernie explained. “So, in my intimacy with the Lord the best thing for me to do is cooperate and allow Him to lead.”
Ivy turned right and headed up the parking ramp. “So you’re saying what you want isn’t necessarily good for you?”
“I’m saying there might be something better … there is something better.”
“Alright,” Ivy mumbled.
“Do you love God?” Ernie inquired.
We both answered simultaneously, “Duh!”
Ernie continued, “Do you think you know what’s best for you or do you think God knows what’s best for you?”
“Duh!” we sang in harmony.
“Well then,” Ernie concluded, “it’s a joy to keep the rules because of the relationship benefits.”
“The benefits?” Ivy positioned the car to back into a parking space.
“As my relationship with Christ matures, our bond becomes more intimate … more comfortable,” Ernie said. “That’s one big benefit and it’s a new definition of fun for me.”
I chuckled. “Fun?”
“The relationship is thrilling. The relationship fun. The relationship is what’s best for me. The relationship makes me satisfied … complete. Why would I want to mess that up?”
“Yeah, for sure!” I said.
Ivy backed into the parking slot. Pulled forward. Re-positioned. And backed in perfectly—two feet on the left and right side of the cars beside hers’. “I see how keeping the rules has a gigantic liberating purpose when you put it that way.”
“Yep!” Ernie agreed. “It’s the joy and satisfaction result of an intimate relationship. Keeping the rules is a lot easier when loving your lover is the focus.”
The three of us exited the car. Ivy pressed the lock button on her car key and dug in her purse for a cigarette. She pulled a bent smoke from a nearly empty pack. Found her lighter. Cupped her hand around the flame and inhaled deeply. “An alive relationship with the Lord … God as my lover … great idea … I’m gonna try that.”
“Let me know how it turns out.”
Big Daddy Weave Trust and Obey