Back in the early 80’s, while driving with Jan on the streets of Los Angeles, a car full of gangbangers pulled up alongside our car as we sat at an intersection waiting for the light to change. I had only been a pastor for a short time and apparently still carried a lingering demeanor from my years as a cop.
Jan and I were attending our first Foursquare Convention at Angeles Temple in Los Angeles. We had just landed at LAX and rented the cheapest car we could find – a French car called a Renault. This was a dinky little car. Our luggage would not fit in the trunk. I was embarrassed to drive the car, but was so happy to be away with Jan for a few days that it really didn't matter. I finally pulled out of the rental lot and onto the streets of LA.
Sitting at a traffic light the last thing I thought would ever happen was to be made as a cop. When the carload of gangbangers pulled alongside and looked our way my first instinct was to reach for what used to hang on my right hip, but nothing was there. Then the guy riding shotgun said with a mocking grin on his face, “Good morning, Officer. Hope you have a nice day!” I smiled at him waiting for the weapons to rise, but off they sped, all four occupants laughing hysterically that they had just “made” an off-duty cop. I watched as the low-rider Chevy rumbled off into the distance. Jan and I turned and looked at each and also laughed as I pressed the wimpy accelerator of our Renault.
I write this story to tell you something. The spiritual authority you carry as a believer is not dependent on a place or position, even if you find yourself in a cheap, manhood-assaulting little car. You carry an authority that is not dependent on your surroundings. It is part of you. God gave you the authority of His Spirit – something that cannot be diminished because you find yourself preaching to an empty sanctuary or working in a job that was never on your bucket list. Your authority travels with you and will be recognized when needed. You simply need to walk in love and when the time is right those who need to take notice will take notice.
Last week, I was staying in a hotel in another state while speaking at a church. One morning, as I walked across the lobby, three cops were present handling a complaint. At the right time, I approached the officers and mentioned I was an ex-cop and thanked them for their service. We asked some back and forth questions only cops would know to ask each other. I told the female Sergeant, “My time behind the badge was almost 40 years ago.” She said, “When you walked in, I could tell.” Some things never leave.
As I back walked to my room the Lord gently reminded me that I was now 66 years old and while I still carried “the look”, I would need to call someone younger as my backup. I wish this word processing program had an easily accessible smile emogi because I would insert it here.