This year at Pathways we are picking up the theme of 'acceleration' which has been embraced by the Apostolic Council as a word for the whole of Church of the Nations for 2018. As I was thinking about this subject, I realised that God had given me a rather good illustration.
Last autumn I started having problems with my car. I would be driving along and the power would just cut dramatically. This could be awkward in traffic. I discovered that if I put my foot to the floor the car would go normally, but it probably wasn't very good for fuel economy! Then one day it didn't work to put my foot down and it just got worse. I ended up having to drive with low power for a quite a few weeks.
Have you ever tried to drive with no acceleration? I discovered how many hills there are on my way home! I started looking forward to the downward stretches where I could get up a reasonable speed. But there is a very long hill where I would try and get a good speed up, but by the time I got half way up the hill I would have dropped to 20-30mph. Any cars in the distance would catch up really quickly and I would be very embarrassed! Eventually I got to the stage where I would turn off the main road before the hill and go home along the country lanes where nobody expected a car to go fast.
I started getting really annoyed if people pulled out in front of me. They would pull out and then speed off into the distance, leaving me unable to accelerate back up! One time there was a car stuck behind me for ages. Eventually the car sped past us, and I realised that it was a friend of mine! I never asked him about it.
We need acceleration to start something new.
When you start from standing still it is hard to pick up momentum. Here at Pathways lots of the things we are doing are new, and that’s when you really need good acceleration because it takes more effort.
We need acceleration during uphill times.
Difficult times in our life can feel like going uphill. Nehemiah taught us to expect challenges if we are building God's kingdom, and during these times we find out how well (or not) we are functioning as a team and as individuals. If you have built up some momentum then it is easier to keep going, so when things are working well press in and make the most of it.
We need acceleration to overtake
Overtaking was not really on my mind at that time because I just wanted to get where I needed to without embarrassment. We can also get into a survival mode in our lives. But sometimes we do need to accelerate to overtake or to get out of danger.
Strategies I tried for coping with lack of acceleration.
Push harder! At first I tried pressing the pedal down harder, which worked for a while but the fuel economy was not so good. So the trouble with just pushing harder is that it takes more out of us! We have to try a lot harder to get things done and we get tired easily. Other areas of our life suffer. We can also end up ignoring the fact that there is a problem and spend our whole lives exhausted.
Avoid the things we find difficult: I went on some torturous routes to avoid the hills on my way home! I was just happy to get home each day but it took longer than it should have. We find lots of ways of working around situations to avoid facing them, but the danger is that we get used to making detours. One day we could find ourselves in a place where there isn't an alternative, and then we can run into trouble.
The best solution is to sort out the problem!
I took my car to the garage which was a rather long saga. They misdiagnosed the problem a few times then finally they said it was the turbocharger which would cost £2800 to fix. I may as well have written the car off, so we asked a friend to have a look. When he took the turbocharger out, he found that a small lever on the back had got stuck. After cleaning it and making sure it was moving freely he put everything back. The car worked fine and we didn't even have to buy a new part.
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Some lessons I learnt:
We need to look under the bonnet to find out what the problem is
We don’t always realise the value of looking beneath the surface of our own lives. There could be all sorts of things causing us problems, for example fears, bad experiences and hurts, strongholds and curses just to name a few.
God is the only one who can diagnose the issue properly.
Like the garage we might assume it is one problem when it is in fact another. In all my years of listening to God I have come to realise that he is very interested in transforming my character. He is committed to removing hindrances so I can function well in life.
The problem might look a lot worse than it is
Many of us are already aware of areas where we struggle and they can seem too hard to deal with or change. But like my turbocharger it might only take a small adjustment to change the whole situation!
Prevention is better than cure
We all know it's dangerous not to have our car serviced regularly. Why is it any less so for human beings? We can make it a regular part of our lives to allow God to transform and heal us. Don't wait until we fail or struggle in a situation.
As we receive this word 'acceleration' for 2018, I think it would be a good time to let God under the surface of our lives so He can prepare our hearts and minds ready for what's ahead.
By Jenny Needham