Saturday, March 31, 2012

#109 Changing Gears

I think most everyone looks forward to learning how to drive as they grow up. My own children ask me from time to time about when they will get to learn how to drive and I look forward to being able to teach them. Even now we discuss various aspects of how to drive and be alert and when we see dangerous or unsafe drivers it provides opportunities to tell them what not to do.

Thinking back to when I learned to drive brings up some rather fond memories. My grandfather ran a salvage yard and I first learned to drive standing in the floorboard of his old Chevy wrecker and learning to shift the large gear stick as he worked the clutch and gas. He would even allow me to hold the huge steering wheel from time to time and get a feel for holding that old truck in the road.

I was always fascinated by how the truck would move forward and gain speed with the changing of the gears. My pawpaw was a master of getting that old wrecker moving without stalling the engine and he could do so even when hauling an old car. The trick with a manual shift transmission is to work three things or more at once. You of course have to give the vehicle some fuel by pressing down the throttle while you let out on the clutch and steer in the desired direction.

If you let out on the clutch too fast then the vehicle stalls. If you give too much fuel before the clutch can engage then the engine revs too much and may even cause you take off spinning wheels. There is a delicate dance of the feet that allows just the right amount of fuel given coupled with just the right speed of clutch release that allows the vehicle to move forward without lurching, jumping or stalling. When done properly the vehicle will simply smoothly begin to move forward. As enough speed is gained all you have to do is let off the gas, press in the clutch pedal, shift the gear stick, and then let out the clutch pedal while simultaneously resuming the correct pressure on the gas pedal. It is a great feeling to be able to master this method of driving and it has always helped me to feel more in control of a vehicle that has a manual transmission.

Believe it or not, life is quite similar to driving a manual shift. For most of us, life does not come at us slow and steady, but rather life comes charging at us head-on moving quicker than we might desire. To be able to roll with whatever life throws our way requires being able to adapt and change gears often; so to speak.

But unlike driving a manual shift vehicle where we have to maintain control and do all the work, we can rely on the Lord to help us through each transitional periods no matter how hectic they may be. For the Christian, life is not merely a test of endurance or some grand obstacle course that requires our own moral and physical fortitude. For God's followers life is more a race of dependence. Meaning that we trust in the Lord to help us to navigate the roads of life; we lean on His understanding and not our own. No, we can't just sit on the proverbial couch and do nothing, but a Christian that is truly successful in adapting to change and rolling with whatever life throws their way is one who has learned to lean on and trust in Christ to meet every need. Only when we trust in Him can all the moving pieces mesh at just the right time.

So how is life trucking along for you? Are you daily trusting in the strength of the Lord and moving along, or are you trying foolishly to do it all on your own and constantly stalling out? We are all very capable people in our own right and it seems that the more capable we are the harder it is for us to trust the Lord to take care of us. It is my prayer that we will lean on Christ for all our needs, and truly let Him be the One who handles all the gear changes that come our way. I have faith that He will get us to our destination safely. After all He promised that He would never leave us nor forsake us (Hebi 13:5).

Dear Father God,
We need You today. We need You to take the wheel of life and to help us through each transition. Thank You for the promise that You will take care of us and that You will walk us through each of life's gear changes. We praise You and simply ask that You will teach us to trust You more and more each day. We praise You and pray these things in Jesus' holy name, Amen!

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