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Driven By Habit

Early this morning I made one of my several rounds. I had been to the hospital to check on and have prayer with one of our members before he was to have surgery. The day actually began routinely.

As I was leaving the hospital, I decided to run by another place and check on something to avoid having to make an extra trip back to the same area. It was around 8:00 0’clock in the morning by now and I know better than to go down some roads at that time, but, I was driven by economy. As I headed down the road it happened; there before me was a string of cars choking up all the lanes of traffic… and where I had to go, I knew it would only get worse. We were creeping along so slowly that a snail could have passed us… but we moved on. Cars, school buses, city buses and pedestrians lined the roads and I was stuck in the middle of all of it.

One thing about slow moving traffic, you have plenty of time to look around. It was then that I saw a young man on the side of the road walking in the same direction I was going. I watched him as he walked and noticed that he stopped repeatedly, bent down to get something, popped back up and repeated the process a few steps later. I was a bit puzzled, and since there wasn’t anything else to do, I watched on. Suddenly, out of nowhere, there was a break in the traffic and both lanes move ahead putting me right next to, actually just a shade in front of the young man I had been watching so intently. As he evened up with me, he once again stooped down and picked up something… but this time I saw what it was. He was picking up cigarette butts. It just so happened that this time he found one that was almost whole. A gigantic grin came across his face, he sprang back to an upright position and he was on cloud nine. It seemed as though his quest now had more purpose. The real hunt was on.

I grinned a bit, snickered, and then, my face went sad. How could someone be so driven by a habit that they would pick up the poison others had discarded and feel joy doing it? How could someone be so controlled by a substance that they would risk their health, their life, picking up the germs and disease of others just to fill a craving? It was a sight that brought me to a sobering moment.

A little further down the street the traffic picked up, the congestion died down and I was well on my way to my destination. My mind raced at the thoughts I had running through my mind. A habit had driven this man to pick up anything he could get his hands on to satisfy his craving for nicotine. It was his habit that made him slow his pace and take time to look for bits and pieces of a cigarette to fill his need. I simply shook my head… and then it hit me!

“What if,” I asked myself? “What if we were so driven by the habit of ‘picking up’ bits and pieces of information about God?” Many of us come to church week after week hoping for exposure. We think we are like film, if we are in the right place at the right time, when the shutter clicks and the film is exposed, we just might get a picture. We hope to be filled by default. If we can just get to church and be there a while, we will have some bit of information poked at us like we poke food at a baby’s mouth and we will be fed.

Where is the hunger? Where is the thirst? How many times have you felt a little hunger and found yourself smack dab in front of the refrigerator digging around in there for something to eat? You don’t really know what you want. You look inside, explore the options, and most often, walk away with something in your hand to munch on. When you are thirsty, how many times do you deny yourself a soda or a drink of water or perhaps a glass of tea? When you feel the thirst, you get up and find something to quench it.

When we are hungry for God, we will not be waiting at home on the porch for someone to come by and fill us. We, like this young man, will find ourselves looking around for bits and pieces as we go from one place to the other. We will ask others what they know. We will stop what we’re doing, open the Bible and take another look at a verse… right then and there just to see of there is a remnant of information that will soothe our curiosity.

We need a habit. Leave the cigarette butts on the street. You don’t need them. Develop a habit just as strong as this young man in finding bits and pieces about God. The greater the habit, the greater the search. And like him, when you find a real jewel, it will make you look harder and longer. Who knows, we might actually learn something on our own.