Lessons from the Transmission

pushing-car2I’m no car genius, but I know when something’s wrong. My first thought was that my ’97 4-Runner had just lost its transmission, on a cold and snowy day miles from home. Thankfully, something else entirely was going on. Something I’m still chuckling about.

So I was out doing errands around town. The parking lot I was in was quite icy (and, as it happens, my car was a little more cluttered than normal, due to the paperwork from all my errands). Anyways, I climb into my car, put it into gear, and begin to pull forward – slowly at first out of caution for the ice. Once I got it rolling, I proceeded to give the engine more gas, but I was surprised that the car didn’t accelerate. I gave it even more gas, and still the car just crept along slowly. I figured the ice must be more slippery than I had realized, so I put it into four-wheel drive. That didn’t help at all, and now my car was slowing to a stop. I was starting to fear the worst. “This is either really slick ice,” I thought to myself, “or else I’m going to have a whopper of a transmission bill.” I said a quick prayer, and thought about my options. It occurred to me that maybe if I put it into a lower gear, I might somehow get more traction, so I reached to the automatic gear shifter, intending to switch from drive to low gear. It was then that I realized my mistake.

As it turns out, the clutter in my car had hidden the fact that the gear shifter had been in neutral the whole time! The only reason the car had pulled forward at all was the fact that the parking lot just happened to be sloped gently in the direction I had wanted to go. As soon as I pulled the shifter from neutral to drive, my car’s behavior returned to normal. I laughed out loud and thanked the Lord for answering my prayer so quickly.

Well, after the embarassment wore off, a new realization dawned on me: I can have all the power of a 183 horsepower engine, but if my drive-shaft isn’t engaged with the power source: I ain’t movin’ unless I’m just drifting.

Reflecting on this, I couldn’t help but ask myself: how much of my life is lived in neutral? I’m trying to make headway, I’m gunning the engine and pounding the steering wheel and not getting anywhere. I’m stressed out with obligations and responsibilities and fears of inadequacy, and I just can’t seem to get out of the driveway. I complain to the Lord and say, “God, what’s wrong? Why aren’t you helping me? I’m trying so hard and I’m getting nowhere! Where are You?”

And the Lord chuckles to Himself and says, “I’m here, child. I’m all here. I’m ready to help. My power is unlimited and it is completely available to you. The question is, Where are you?”

This humbling little parking lot episode was just a reminder that I need to be engaged with the Power Source. My drive-train needs to be tightly coupled with the One who is my life. But if I let my soul get so cluttered with “stuff from all my errands” I will be blind to the fact that I’ve lost that connection. I think perhaps it was that kind of blindness that Paul was concerned about when he said to his friends in Ephesus,

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, in order that you may KNOW…  the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe — that extraordinary power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead.” (Eph 1:18-20)

So, if you find yourself spinning and sweating and stressed out this busy Christmas season, I encourage you to take some time to inspect the transmission of your soul and revitalize your connection with the Savior. And, in the words of that great philosopher, Captain Jean-Luc Picard,


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