I have a confession to make. At the end of April I got my 3rd speeding ticket in the great city of Richardson. They happen in these speed traps coming in and out of downtown where the speed limit is 30 and hasn’t changed to 35 yet, or coming out of the Spring Valley tunnel and there’s not a speed limit sign till further down the road. I have been distracted with thoughts of "how the heck did we get a 3.1 million dollar offer on the building?"or I have been praying for someone in crisis, or simply running late. Not that those are excuses, but these are not 30 mile an hour-topics in my brain, and doesn’t the Richardson police have something better to do than to pull over ministers on their way to work on "the Bible Belt " (Line) anyway? Never mind the fact that I have been passed like I am standing still on every highway in Texas, and I never seen those pickup trucks and hotrodders pulled over. (I have nohting against pick-up trucks--both my sons drive them!).
So, after I take my 3rd speeding citation and start crawling my way up to church, I start berating God for not helping me out (in the spirit of a good lament Psalm, of course). “You could have helped me out—given me a warning—or put one of those annyoing slow people in front of me. I do work for you—I am working pretty hard you know.” After my little verbal tantrum. I was quiet, and I did get a response, and you know what the Holy Spirit said to me?
“Slowing down is about humility.”
“Oh great!” I thought to myself. “Just what I need on top of a speeding ticket –to be chastised in prayer!” This happens about once a year—at least it has since I started as the pastor here just over 4 years ago. It didn’t used to happen—I don’t know if God thinks I need more chastising or perhaps it’s that I am older now and I can take a good correction, which I could not when I was younger (I am handling this so well!)
Nevertheless, I was not real excited about being chastised in prayer on top of speeding ticket, so I said to the Spirit, “why don’t you move along and go not help someone else who’s working for you.”
You might wonder how I know this was the Holy Spirit—well because I know it was not my thought. I was not thinking about humility at that moment. This phrase came unbidden when my mind quieted for a moment after my complaint. This thought just appeared like text suddenly popping on the screen. When that happens, you know you did not generate it.
Also, I had that sinking feeling of being pinned to the wall. God diagnosed my spiritual problem dead to rights, and I could not squirm away. It is hard to do this for ourselves—we usually either make excuses on the one end, or we are excessively hard on ourselves, so we feel absolutely irredeemable on the other end. But this was neither of those. This was conviction with an invitation to change.
“Slowing down is about humility,” floated into my mind, the conviction was felt in my chest. That was the Holy Spirit, I have no doubt—a Godsighting in a speeding ticket. Not my favorite one, mind you, but a Godsighting, and an important one, nonetheless.
Why do I tell you this story today? Because God finds a way to communicate with each one of us—and that is what Holy Trinity Sunday is all about—how do you experience God communicating with you? How do see, feel, hear, taste, experience God revealing and making Godself known to you?
I am “words-person”—I write, I speak, read, and listen to others’ words—so when God wants to get through to me when I quiet my mind, I sometimes hear new words that I know I did not think myself. But you may not be a words person—you may be a music person, a sensory-kinesthetic-person, an out-in-nature person, a history-person, a singing-in-choir-person, an animal person, a service person, math or science person, a meditation person, an exercise person, a patterns-person, an arts-person or creativity person, a media person, a many different ways-person.
The question on Trinity Sunday is not, do you understand this doctrine, but how is our amazing God showing up around you, through you, in you? God will find a way that speaks to you, that you can notice, that you can recognize, that causes you to pause and go, “that was unusual…that was …unexpected…was that…was that the Spirit?... was that a God-sighting? Was that a God-wink?”
If you are noticing and wondering, the answer is “yes!” If you are asking the question, the answer is most likely, “yes!” because in the Spirit, there’s no such thing as coincidence. Often, we recognize God’s hand in retrospect, looking back on a moment—and the more you do that, the more able you become at recognizing God showing up in the moment.
There is always an element of mystery to God whom we will never fully know, yes, and also, God wants to be known and experienced and recognized—and one way is not sufficient!—so first we have the revelation of the whole creation! Wisdom in Proverbs sings the song of her Spirit’s presence in the springs and hills, mountains and soil, delighting in the world and in the human race. God wants to be known in every blade of grass, every cardinal, every crepe myrtle, every person I pass by in the car, every driver, and beggar on the street. But if I speed through life as if I am more important than others, I will miss what God is trying to show me, call me to do, or learn on the journey. I will miss delighting in God’s presence in every person in the human race as the God of Creation calls us to do. “Slowing down is about humility,” --so is seeing God in creation.
God wants to be known and experienced and recognized and one way is not sufficient, so God put on the garment of humanity, pressing down into the limits of our fallen race, walking beside us in all of our great goodness and all of our horrible badness. Jesus endured the rejection, he cried the tears, he experienced the suffering, and he accepted the death. But death could not hold him and even there, God was victorious, raising him and us to new life, new hope and a new future ensuring that we are never alone, but that his risen presence is with us to the end of age. But if I am running late because it’s so important to get one more thing checked off my to do list and I am racing around, I will not notice the Lord Jesus who accompanies me, who shoulders my burdens, who answers my prayers, who sets my true agenda, and who guides my path. “Slowing down is about humility,” --so is seeing Jesus beside me.
God wants to be known and experienced and recognized and one way is not sufficient, so God sent the Advocate to dwell inside of us, lighting us up with the risen Christ, telling us the truth, because “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” The Holy Spirit is not just in some of us, but in all of us—a gift of being baptized into Christ! The Spirit prays for us and strengthens us in suffering so that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. But if I am hurriedly moving around distracted by my own thoughts and worries, I am not available for the Spirit to work through me—to pray for me in sighs too deep for words, to be my source of strength and hope, to be the light that shines through me, to be the energizer battery when I am weary, and to hear the truth that comes from God. “Slowing down is about humility,” --so is allowing the Spirit to move through me.
I have never met my speeding ticket attorney in person—we have only emailed. I shared this God-experience about humility with him, revealing that I did not enjoy being chastised in prayer, but that we are all spiritual-work-in-progress. He wrote back to me with the following words: “I feel like you’re reading my mail. I know exactly what you mean. Every day I learn more, including what I need to do to be humble. I’m trying to listen to the still small voice.” We may not often think of attorneys with the humility to listen for the God in the still small voice—and that exchange in itself is a Godsighting. A spirit of humility enables us to more easily watch and look for God’s presence in our daily lives—because we trust that God is the Creator and we are the created.
It’s a humility that knows you really matter to God and God knows you, loves you, lives in you and surrounds you, and will show up for you, so you solidly trust and believe that; AND at the same time it’s humility that knows we are not more important than anyone else—that our time, contribution to the community, or where we need to be, is held in balance with everyone else (this is where God was pushing me). We sit in right relationship with God and with others (we sit in the middle of the cross).
God wants to be known and experienced and recognized and one way is not sufficient, so how is God revealing Godself to you? In nature, in your best friend, in music, in unbidden thoughts, in meditation, in exercise, in prayer, in the movement of history, in the beauty of a math formula, in the view through a telescope, in the joy at your family being together? There are as many experiences of God as there are people here, and we need to hear your Godsightings, your experiences of creation, your moments of Spirit, your times when Jesus is real, because hearing these experiences will build our faith, our endurance, our hope, and help each of us see God in new ways! So we have a newsprint up in the entryway by each side door to the sanctuary, and you can add your Godsightings every week. Share where you have seen or experienced God’s love, light, presence, justice, hope, Spirit, peace, or creation shining through anyone, anywhere in all of your summer travels and family get togethers. Let’s slow down together, embracing how God is showing up and celebrating that God is still alive and active in our lives and in our world.