My first car was a 1985 Toyota Supra. It was a graduation gift from my parents and my grandparents. I was overwhelmed to receive this “prize” from my family. It was used with 68,000 miles on it (which I would more than double when I owned it), and it was more than anything I could have hoped for.
Problem was, it was a 5-speed manual transmission. I had learned to drive on a 1970 Buick Wildcat with an automatic transmission (and, just for bragging rights, a 455 c.I./7.5 liter engine). The Buick was fast, big, and ugly…but it was easy to drive. I never had to worry about those pesky gears.
Now here I was – a new high school graduate with a very cool new (to me) car. White paint, bucket seats with lumbar support, good stereo, sunroof, spoilers, aluminum rims, and even spray washers for the headlights. I couldn’t wait to drive it.
But I couldn’t.
I had never learned to drive a 5-speed. If I wanted to drive this shiny, new toy, I had to learn how to drive it.
So I did. Jumpy starts, stalls, tire squeals, and all – I learned how to drive that car.
When everything is on automatic, you don’t have to think. You just let the system do the work for you. But when pressing the clutch, shifting the gears, and releasing the clutch while accelerating is up to you, you have to act. You cannot be a passive participant in the gear-shifting process. If you let the clutch out wrong, the car might stall or buck like a wild bull – and people everywhere will stare at you (and maybe even laugh). If you give it too much gas, the rear tires could spin and any cops in the immediate area might want to come see what you are up to (not that that has happened to me). If you miss the shift or go into the wrong gear, you risk over-revving the engine or going into a gear with too little power.
Though over time, this becomes second nature, you have to learn the process first.
I think most of us go through life on automatic. We live more like we are just along for the ride rather than people who have been granted the ability to make our own choices.
We let others tell us what to do and how to do it. OR we let them tell us what we cannot do. Careers and relationships often reflect our “life on automatic.”
When we live on automatic, complacency can keep us from acting. Instead, we wait for change – a shift – that may not ever come.
We become passive victims to criticism, failure, or our own pains and hurts. We may not be miserable, but we may be stuck in a state of perpetual what-ifs and unrealized dreams.
So we live our lives, with our foot on the gas pedal, yet wondering why it seems we never get up to speed.
We forget to shift.
Life is not automatic, and we have to learn to make the shift.
Today, I reached a decision about my life. I do too much on automatic. I have dreams, but I wait for a season to just happen – forgetting that it won’t happen unless I create it. I have goals, but I often silence those goals as not to threaten or interfere with others’ “shifts.”
This is no way to live. This is now way to honor a God who calls us to a radical obedience because of what He has done for us.
So today I have decided to shift. Why? Because you cannot get anywhere if you’ve only lived life in 1st or 2nd gear. Anyone who owns a sports car will tell you the real fun begins in 3rd and 4th, when you really get up to speed.
Like driving that old Supra, I will have a lot to learn. But watch out. I learned to drive that car like it was an extension of my own body.
From now own, my ministry, my goals, and my obedience to God in reaching those goals will no longer run on automatic. It is time to effect the change that God has placed on my heart. It is time to act, even if it means rattling the cages of those who would rather have me remain on automatic.
Consider yourself warned and to check your rearview mirror…
…because now, the race is on, and I LOVE to drive.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
– Hebrews 12:1
Much, much more to come…