The neighborhood was still, as it should be at one in the morning. Amber-colored street lights stood their watch at the corners. Dead leaves crunched under our tires. The bright white beams of our headlights illuminated cats and the occasional raccoon as they scampered across the street in front of us. A few of the summer’s last crickets made themselves known by their songs. They’d be dead as soon as a hard frost hit. We were driving without music and mostly without talking. All three of us seemed to either have been caught up in the ambiance of the evening, or we were just really tired. Either way, we each stared out our windows at yards full of leaves. Some had pumpkins, while others had the fake spiders, lights, ghosts and all the other decor that comes with Halloween.
We rolled by new scenery every second, but it all felt the same at this hour. We turned every five minutes. North, then east, north again, but then we’d make two right turns and start heading south, meandering through the neighborhood. I was completely lost. I had a rough sense of our location, but had little notion of how far we had burrowed into this neighborhood. I also didn’t know what we were doing.
I wanted Jack in the Box curly fries. I thought everyone had agreed with me that they were hungry too. So when we piled into the car and started driving, I had a destination in mind. One easy, direct route would have gotten us there. Once at the nasty fast food place, we’d sit in the drive through, behind about a dozen stoned teenagers who happened to be out trying to gratify their weed-induced hunger.
That’s what I expected, but instead we were extravagating around some weird neighborhood looking at crap that I didn’t care about. My stomach was growling and my face started to get hot when I turned to our driver and asked,
“What are you doing? I’m hungry!”
His lowered eyebrows and the wrinkles on his forehead indicated that he didn’t know what I was talking about. “Dude. You’re supposed to be driving us to Jack in the Box. I’m starving, and you’re out here wandering the streets like you’re looking for something. Food is on State Street. Not wherever the deuce we are in the middle of suburbia!”
“I didn’t know we were getting food. I thought you guys wanted to go for a drive”
I ended the conversation by explaining that if we didn’t go get me some seasoned curly fries that very minute, I’d be taking control of the wheel and he’d be walking home after I pushed him out of the car. It was that simple. I’m not sure where the communication broke down or why it took me so long to say something, but I was done with the driving- I was probably more done with being awake, because grumpiness always accompanies excessive fatigue.
★ ★ ★
Too often in Christianity, we confuse the ends with the means. We do something just to do it and think that it’s what we’re supposed to work at. I hate to say it, but Jesus won’t reward us for memorizing His commands, if we didn’t do them. I would imagine He’d pat each one of us on the shoulder and ask,
“Did I tell you to do that? Or did I tell you to make disciples?”
Or perhaps He’d say,
“I made you to serve the poor and broken-hearted. I never expected you to quote Deuteronomy 14 at people.”
Memorization and reading the Bible are important. So are extra church services and small groups. As Christians, we can’t live without digging into God’s word on a regular basis. We shouldn’t function without fellowship with other believers, either. Understand though, you’ve been called to more than those tasks. So please, go out and serve your community. Learn God’s word then go out and do something with it because otherwise, you’ll be driving around while someone right next to you is probably starving and is really pissed off.