Wednesday, May 8, 2019

First Gear

An Arkie's Faith column from the May 8, 2019, issue of The Mena Star.

It was a beautiful spring evening with blue skies, fluffy clouds, and a perfect 70-degree temperature. The redbuds and dogwoods were in bloom, showing off their glorious beauty. I had not driven my little Rambler American for several weeks, so I decided that this evening would be a great time to take a drive. I headed for Wal-Mart to pick up some things that I needed. The sun was shining as I drove along with my window down. I pulled into the parking lot, found a space, and headed into the store.

When I had finished shopping, I put my purchases in the trunk of the Rambler and then slid behind the wheel, getting ready to start the engine and head home. I slipped the key in the ignition and pushed on the clutch. The clutch went to the floor with no resistance. “Oh no,” I thought, “what am I going to do? With no clutch, I wouldn’t be able to drive home.”

The car in the parking space in front of me pulled out of the space. I put the little Rambler in first gear and turned the key. The Rambler lurched and jerked as it started in gear. I was able to maneuver out of the parking lot in first gear and crept up to the stop sign at the exit. There was no one near, so I idled through the stop sign and made my way to the stoplight at the intersection. The light was red, but I made my way through the parking lot and onto the highway. Without a clutch, I couldn’t shift out of first gear. The engine raced as I drove down the highway at ten miles an hour. That was as fast as the Rambler could go in first gear.

I had three miles to drive to get back to my shop. The roar of the engine echoed in my ears as I slowly drove down the road. Traffic behind me had to wait for a chance to get into the other lane to pass me. I felt bad about impeding traffic, but I had no other choice. I only hit one traffic light while it was red. I had to kill the engine and sit at the light. When it turned green, I once again turned the key and started the engine while the car groaned and stumbled forward. I was worried about the engine overheating from being driven at high rpm’s but at such a slow speed that very little air was going through the radiator. When I finally reached my shop, I breathed a sigh of relief.

When I was able to get under the Rambler and check out the clutch linkage, I found that the reinforced fabric material of the clutch linkage flexible support assembly had torn apart. I would have to go online and order the parts before I could repair the Rambler and drive it again. I didn’t want to have to drive it stuck in first gear. I hope to have the clutch linkage repaired soon so that I can drive in high gear.

Too many of us are going through life stuck in first gear. We can plod along at a slow pace and eventually get where we are going, but life isn’t enjoyable. This isn’t the life that Jesus wants for us. He says, “I have come so they may have life. I want them to have it in the fullest possible way.” John 10:10 (NIRV) Jesus doesn’t want us to be stuck in first gear.

Some days it seems like everything naturally goes from good to bad. I know that I have had days like that, and I’m sure that you have too.  It seems like nothing is going right and we are just spinning our wheels and not making any headway. When things go wrong, and life is hard, heartbreaking, or even just disappointing, we can easily get stuck in a negative mindset. But a negative attitude keeps you stuck in first gear.

In his letter to the believers in Ephesus, Paul included this prayer. “I pray that Christ may live in your hearts by faith. I pray that you will be filled with love. I pray that you will be able to understand how wide and how long and how high and how deep His love is. I pray that you will know the love of Christ. His love goes beyond anything we can understand. I pray that you will be filled with God Himself. God is able to do much more than we ask or think through His power working in us.” Ephesians 3:17-20 (NLV)

When you are having that bad day, or if you feel that your life is going nowhere, remember that Jesus loves you beyond anything you can understand. “We are God’s accomplishment, created in Christ Jesus to do good things. God planned for these good things to be the way that we live our lives.” Ephesians 2:10  (CEB)

The life you have today, and all it includes or doesn’t include, is the life God has given you. It’s the only life you have. But you can live it to the fullest. Don’t let life pass you by as you allow problems, disappointments, or drudgery to steal your enthusiasm for living. Don’t go through life in first gear. God wants you to live life to it’s fullest in high gear. Your happiness is up to you.

Gentle Reader, “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 (NLT) But you don’t have to wait for heaven to experience a full life. King David wrote, “You direct me on the path that leads to a beautiful life. As I walk with You, the pleasures are never-ending, and I know true joy and contentment. Psalm 16:11 (VOICE) Even in this life, those who believe in Jesus can have a wonderful appetizer of future blessings! Jesus truly did come so that we can live life in the fullest possible way. He wants you to live life in high gear. Don’t get stuck in first gear

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