Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Dumb Hitch hiker - Cross Purposes 116


On ‘ABC overnight’, at about 4:00am on Tuesday morning, Trevor Chapple got a discussion going about hitchhiking stories. Hitchhiking was an ‘in thing’ to do in the sixties and seventies. It’s illegal in many places today.

It reminded me of a story of my own. I was going home from Sydney to Wagga. Having caught the suburban train to Liverpool, I parked myself, thumb out, beside the Hume Highway. A Holden sedan pulled up with 2 blokes in it. They were going my way so I was happy for the lift. The bag I was carrying went into the boot which was opened with a screwdriver.

A little further along the highway we stopped to pick up a hippie couple traveling with a dog, which shared the back seat with us. (Yuk!)

Around Yass we needed to fill up with fuel, and since the guys in front were apparently tallying up lots of silver coins rather than notes I did the decent thing and offered them a quid (=$2:00).

We all got some lunch and then renewed the journey, with me aware for the first time that this car didn’t need a key to start.

They were on the way to Melbourne so we parted company at the junction with the Sturt Highway, just short of Tarcutta. The company had been reasonable, if a bit smelly, but I wouldn’t have given them a second thought except for a news item.

That evening it was reported that police had arrested 2 men after a car drove away from a service station at Holbrook without paying for petrol. Furthermore these same 2 men were charged with theft of a motor vehicle in Sydney, and also with robbery from poker machines at a suburban club!

You know, the thought had never occurred to me that the car might be stolen? Nothing in me rang a bell to say “Hang on, there’s something funny here.” Not the screwdriver, not the coins, not the missing key, Nothing! I was naive, not worldly wise, an innocent abroad. I guess a holidaying, hitchhiking policeman would have sussed it out the moment a screwdriver was produced for opening the boot. How easily could I have become entangled in illegal affairs, perhaps even assaulted and robbed for my money.

All of what I’ve written above was somehow processed in just a minute or two. And then the Spirit nudged the thought further and said to me, “Fred, many people, including the people of God, get involved in stuff which is dangerous and entangling for them simply because they are unaware of the dangers. And Fred, sometimes they do not want to know, and do not want to see that they are “hitching rides” which can ensnare them.”

I get the nudges every now and then. And am then reminded again that one of the charges of my call as a pastor is to do whatever I can and must to help Jesus’ followers be on their guard. St Peter says “Be alert, be on the watch! Your enemy, the Devil, roams around like a roaming lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5)

Someone can remonstrate with you about the things you get involved in. We can warn you about how unwise it can be. We can get on your case and nag you. You might not want to know or see. That’s often the reality.

However the best way we have to help you is to help you be immersed in the love affair between God and humanity as we experience it in Jesus the Christ. The more we swim in his things, know his heart, know his mind, experience his community and treasure his word, the more aware we become of things, words, events, situations and involvements that are traps from evil. It’s through these things that the Holy Spirit gives us a spiritual nose to smell trouble even if we can’t define it. He gives us discernment. The Holy susses out the unholy! Our Father in heaven wants us safe and on guard. And he wants our children safe. In these evil days discernment is one gift we cannot live without.

Be blessed Celebrate Pentecost. Ask and you shall receive!



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