As I drove across MacArthur Causeway — one of a handful of bridges that connect the island of Miami Beach to the mainland — I was happy. I was home.
I work as a ride-share driver (Uber/Lyft) on my breaks in order to save money and pay for school, and it was my first day driving for summer vacation. While cruising on the causeway, I watched the waves crash against the shore and move away from the line of cruise ships stationed on the port of Miami.
The scenery welcomed me back to Miami, but little did I know that in two weeks time, home would chew me up and spit me out.
It became an eat or be eaten situation in the chaos that encompassed the city. Roads and highways were packed with cars, with tourists walking out into the streets.
I tried to compose myself as I navigated the bustling city traffic. Passengers complained about everything. Lyft threatened to deactivate my account. I got side-swiped by a black pickup truck that took out my sideview mirror and drove away. My brakes wore out.
I was cursing and spewing obscenities at everyone that cut me off. My inner peace was gone with the waves that rolled back into the sea. I found myself in a spiritual battle in which I was letting my surroundings influence me instead of me influencing my surroundings.
It had only been a couple of weeks, and I was battle-scarred, disoriented and in pain. I fell on my knees and had a little powwow with God. I told Him: “I can’t. The enemy is throwing everything at me, and I can’t. I lay everything at Your feet.”
I realized that my spiritual fuel was running low. I needed to recharge in order to be at full capacity with the Holy Spirit. That deficiency led to my surroundings influencing me.
After that conversation with God, He opened my eyes. I hadn’t been able to refuel my spiritual battery because I was working 12 hours a day, six days a week and not spending enough time with Him. After that, I started spending an hour a day in communion.
The next Sabbath, after watching a service about spiritual battles, I got emotional. The Calvary scene came to mind. In every visual I saw, every word I read, I envisioned how the walk to Calvary caused Jesus to fall multiple times. And yet, He got up every time, picked up the cross and kept walking. Everything in Jesus’ life had purpose. In this particular instance, He was illustrating the Christian walk.
In his letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul tells us that even in difficult circumstances, Paul learned to be content. The secret to living amid life’s difficulties is simple: trusting God in such a way that one can say, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)
For the rest of the summer, I progressively developed a different mood with a different perspective. The more time I spent in communion with God, the more I recharged my spiritual battery. The more I invited the Holy Spirit in, the more He would be there when my surroundings tried to influence me. I allowed Him to affect my surroundings instead.