My dad learned the hard way: never bring hot coffee along when teaching a 16-year-old how to drive a stick shift. We bounced around the high school parking lot in the rusty little 70’s Dodge Colt, almost banging into curbs and barely missing light poles. It took me a while but I got the hang of it and then I loved it. There was that one time, though, when I was still getting used to the whole idea and accidentally put my clutch in instead of the brake as we rounded a corner. My mom shrieked. My little sis and brother laughed and flew around in the back seat.
Do you know how to drive a stick or “standard?” You have to shift gears for the engine as you accelerate and decelerate rather than it happening automatically, hence the other type of car is called “automatic.” I’m so smart.
I learned to downshift when I slowed down so the engine wouldn’t die, to put the clutch in when I stopped, to use low gears when driving on the ice and snow, how to switch the clutch and gas at just the right moment when stopped and starting again on a hill. The first time I learned that I said a quick prayer for the guy on the motorcycle behind me so I wouldn’t roll back and crush him.
I have to shift gears for my heart, too. My life starts heading in one direction and I shift smoothly as God and I accelerate, but we never stay in fifth gear. There is a lot of fluctuation – faster, slower, shift up, downshift. Stop. Sometimes my timing is off and I hear the gears grind or I lurch forward. Being an emotional person, I give myself whiplash a lot.
This year has been one of more gear changes than I can ever remember in my life before. Not just for me, but for my family, too. I tend to want to settle into a speed and stay there. It feels comfortable. Why is it we humans always want to settle? I can’t shake it. As hard as I’m trying to trust God and be flexible and open, my heart wants desperately to settle down, settle in, to put down roots. I’m pretty sure he made us that way so I get frustrated when I feel He won’t let it happen!
In the last couple of months I’ve started feeling more settled and then John tells me yesterday of a church that wants to meet us. I had placed that whole “looking for a pastorate” thing in the back seat. Not long ago I felt so open and peaceful about going anywhere, to any type of church, as long as it was what God wanted. Today I don’t want to. I’m having trouble shifting gears. We’ve started becoming involved in a church, started helping, started making new friends and the thought of changing again is hard for me right now. Disheartening. I thought I learned this lesson already! Blasted human nature.
I remember just a few weeks ago encouraging my youngest to go ahead, plug in and make friends, even though we don’t know how long we’ll be here. It’s better to have had those relationships and been enriched by them than to not have had them at all. If only I could practice the attitude I preach.
You know what, I just realized why I’m having such difficulty. I’m trying to shift but God’s driving. How awkward is that? The one in the driver’s seat most definitely is the one that needs to take hold of the stick and change gears when necessary. Again, I forgot that any control I think I have is false control.
Help me, God. Seriously! Please help me. I’m hurting this morning because I want to be settled and was starting to feel that way but I need to stay open, I know I do. Help me not to discourage my husband by my ineptness at change. You’re driving. You know what you’re doing and where we’re going. I’ll get back over in the passenger seat now.
What can we say about all this? If God is on our side, can anyone be against us? God did not keep back his own Son, but he gave him for us. If God did this, won’t he freely give us everything else? If God says his chosen ones are acceptable to him, can anyone bring charges against them? Or can anyone condemn them? No indeed! Christ died and was raised to life, and now he is at God’s right side,Can anything separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble, suffering, and hard times, or hunger and nakedness, or danger and death?… speaking to him for us.
In everything we have won more than a victory because of Christ who loves us. I am sure that nothing can separate us from God’s love–not life or death, not angels or spirits, not the present or the future, [not the unknown, not change], and not powers above or powers below. Nothing in all creation can separate us from God’s love for us in Christ Jesus our Lord! Romans 8:31-38 CEV