Recently, I took some time away from studying and visited the capital city to experience a different aspect of Brazilian culture. It didn’t take long for cultural differences to be glaring at me. However, of all the things I experienced, there is only one that I continue to reflect on.
My friend and I were walking down the street headed to our next destination. It was one of the busiest streets in the city; a four lane highway filled with more cars than there was room for and street vendors, elbow to elbow, lining the sidewalks with various products. We stopped at one of the street vendors and purchased a tangerine for a snack and continued towards our destination. We cautiously crossed the street and just as we stepped up onto the curb, on the other side, we were greeted by an ear piercing ringing. The sound likened to that of an old church bell. However, it was being rung at a much quicker pace, a pace that implied significant urgency. As we quickly, and somewhat frantically, scanned our surroundings we were bombarded with street vendors who were frenziedly gathering their belongings and running in various directions. The noise continued to blare, allowing us to locate its origin. Across the highway, at the corner of the intersection, there was a man with a metal pipe eagerly banging the pipe against the metal pole of the red light. The result was a LOUD warning.
As I questioned what was happening, my friend explained that although street vendors are very common throughout Brazil, it is actually illegal. Therefore, in attempt to not get caught, there is always someone on the lookout. As the lookout man spotted police nearby, his job was to provide a warning to the vendors, allowing them to gather their belongings and make a run for it.
Over the last few weeks, as this scene has replayed in my mind over and over again, I have thought about how applicable it is to my spiritual life. Too often, instead of doing what I know to be right, I choose to follow my own rules. Fortunately, God has provided a ‘lookout man’ for me too, the Holy Spirit. Just like the ‘lookout man’ on the street that day, the Holy Spirit always provides a warning, a warning that I can hear loud and clear. God’s desire is for me to walk in complete obedience to Him. However, He knows that I am ignorant, weak, and often blind to the schemes of Satan; and lets face it, sometimes I just want to play by my own rules. Without fail, the combination of the schemes of Satan and my own rebellion lead directly to disobedience. Thankfully, despite my unworthiness, God, in His mercy, always rings a ‘warning bell’. He never fails to warn me of the disobedience that I am choosing or the dangers of the choices that I am making. I am realizing I should be just like the street vendors. Immediately, upon hearing the ‘warning bell’, I should gather myself together and go running. I shouldn’t hesitate, I shouldn’t look back, I shouldn’t second guess. I should only heed the warnings of the Lord and follow Him in complete obedience.
“the Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy. 31:8