July 10, 1991
A young man in Moose Jaw wears an electronic ball and chain. Instead of going to prison at roughly $70 a day, he is under a sort of house arrest that uses a computerized monitor to keep track of him using a black bracelet on his leg that allows him to go to work and come back home. if he goes out of the house at any other time than working hours without special permission, it shows up on a monitor and he will be sent to a real jail.
This gizmo costs about $2 a day. According to the probation officer who monitors this prisoner, such a money-saver is for “well-screened clients only” and it really doesn’t offer much freedom. After all, the prisoner can’t go shopping, or out for a hamburger, or participate in any ordinary after-work activities. The prisoner says he is not proud of his situation and he did not want to be identified. He will be so “confined” for several months.
Sometimes I wish God would put one of those things on me, not so much to keep my location in check but to monitor my actions and my tongue! It would be nice if every time I did or said the wrong thing, an electronic beeper went off and sent me straight to my knees to confess my sin and get right with God -- and with whoever else I offended. It might be a bit hard on my pride and my shins but sometimes I wonder if the lessons would be more quickly learned than with the present system?
Actually, how can I say that! God knows best. He didn’t give me a beeper, but He did give me (and all Christians) the Holy Spirit. His purpose is to convince of sin and unbelief, and to assure Christians that they have been given the righteousness of Christ. He reminds us that the condemnation or judgment we deserved has been put on His Son. The Spirit was also given to teach us, remind us of what we know, and give us the strength to obey God. Quite superior to an electronic beeper!
But Christians are not robots operated by this internal third Person of the Godhead. We have to do our part, including at least these three things:
KNOW THE WORD: The Holy Spirit doesn’t speak apart from Biblical principles. Jesus said of Him, “...He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak at His own initiative but whatever He hears, He will speak... He shall glorify me for He shall receive of mine, and shall show it to you.” Not every idea we get is from God so it is important to be able to distinguish the Spirit’s voice from the cravings of our own desires or the ravings of an evil entity. Sometimes both can be incredibly subtle. No alarm may sound and that still, small voice is so easy to ignore.
LISTEN: My husband recently reminded me how gently the Spirit speaks, without roars or yells or blaring alarms. Instead, He whispers and nudges. He may keep on nudging if we don’t respond quickly, but because it is possible to “quench the Spirit”, our refusal to listen may result in a blunder into sin, only to learn our lesson the hard way. Learning to listen is easier if we obey the first time we hear His voice.
TALK BACK: Not as in sass but as in prayer. Talking with God, accompanied by listening, develops a sensitivity to Him. Too often I reserve prayer for crisis times yet my relationship with any other friend would never survive if we only talked to each other every time something went haywire. Just as I know my husband’s voice on the telephone because we talk long and often, I am learning the voice of God’s Spirit through frequent conversation. God’s provision of what Jesus called “another Comforter” is perfect. A beeper would be cumbersome, impersonal, and truly a ball and chain, whereas the Spirit came to set us free from the bondage of sin and to be our guide throughout life.