Spiritual Back-Up Camera
"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)
Driving in reverse has always been a challenge for me… always. When I was sixteen, I was driving down a gravel road, in my hometown, which was under construction. Mounds of dirt and rock lined both sides of the road, making it a narrow, one-lane, quarter of a mile stretch. When I had almost reached the end of the road a gravel truck started driving straight at me. Are you kidding me? I only had about 100 yards to go and I would have been to my desired turn. Apparently, the truck driver needed through immediately, so he began waving at me to back up. What? This had to be a joke. I couldn’t even back out of my driveway without causing a yard job back then. From up in his lofty cab he glared at me, waving his hands for me to move. Ok dude, you asked for it. I began to back-up a few feet but couldn’t keep the car straight and the back tires of my little Pontiac Sunfire went up on a mound of gravel to the right of me. Ok, I should have seen that coming. I put it in drive, moved forward, put it in reverse, moved backward another few feet, and once again up on a mound of gravel. This time it was on my left. Ugh, this was the awful scene that transpired over and over again for the next 5-10 minutes. Seeing my distress, the construction worker got down from his truck, walked towards my car, opened the driver’s side door and told me to move over. The strange construction worker would in 60 seconds barrel my little car in reverse down the road like he was Mario Andretti without missing a beat. I was humiliated. Did I mention driving in reverse was a challenge for me? I’ve gotten “somewhat” better since then, but not much, so I was thrilled when this year, for the first time ever, I got a vehicle with a back-up camera. It has changed my life! Just in case you think I’m making too big a deal about this, know that the general public is blessed by me having this as well. I am, for the first time, parking inside the yellow lines in parking lots. I’m no longer pulling my vehicle up too close to sidewalks and walkways. Trust me, people, this is a win-win for everyone! It did take me a while to get used to the screen and to trust what I was seeing, but now I’m a pro. I whip into our long narrow driveway in reverse and park like a professional. Quite impressive, actually! I’ve gotten used to this new way of life for almost a year now and it’s been glorious, until last week. My husband was driving as we left a family member’s house. He put the vehicle in reverse and the screen, normally a brilliant image of the world behind us, was a glaring solid blue with words, “Service Rear Vision System.” “Ugh, it’s probably just a glitch that will reset once we restart,” was my immediate optimistic thought. It’s been 4 days and no such luck. I have an appointment for the vehicle to be serviced later this week, but what am I supposed to do in the meantime? I need this camera to work! My drive is way too long to make my way without a camera. I know, I know, first world problems; still it is my problem. So what do I do? I stop whining and start learning how to drive correctly in reverse, that’s what I do, and so far, so good. I haven’t given the neighbors a yard job yet, so that’s a win for the Ehmke house! Spiritual growth is a lot like driving in reverse. At first, none of us really knows how to do it. We try and fail, try and fail, and sometimes someone comes along and helps us move. The longer we work at it, the more intentional we are about our growth, the better we become and the closer we get to God. If we’re consistent enough in our attempts at growth, eventually we are blessed to find our very own “spiritual back-up camera,” that amazing pathway that is uniquely suited to us where we connect with God in such an easy natural way that it feels almost effortless. For me, it’s nature. Give me a hiking trail, a beach, or a kayak on the lake and God and I are connecting like long lost friends. I have some friends who connect with God this way through running, and others through art, writing, studying, and worship music. If you haven’t found your spiritual pathway, it’s worth the exploration. A word of caution should be shared at this point. Always remember, the pathway is not the destination. God is the destination. He gives us these beautiful ways of connecting with him that are uniquely suited to us so we can more easily hear his voice. This is the point, the only point; and if the pathway becomes more important than the destination God sometimes allows a “solid blue screen” to disrupt and stretch us so we learn to hear his voice in other ways. When we lived in St. Louis I had so many amazing areas in nature to be with God and learned many profound lessons out in those places. Since our move to Peoria, those places have been missing. Oh, they are here — I just haven’t found them yet, which has forced me to exercise my spiritual muscles in new ways. Nature is and will always be my favorite way to connect with God, but in this season he’s reminding me that he is… A SPEAKING SAVIOR. I just need to listen. When I’ve looked at the irritating blue screen in my vehicle the past few days, this is what God’s been teaching me. Disruption can be good when we use it to grow in areas where we are weak. In time, the good things come back into our lives and when they do we have a healthier more balanced respect for them. Until then, may we be people who grow in the midst of these disruptions, finding God is always present.
For Your Reflection… What is your “spiritual back-up camera” — that unique way you connect with God? Are you holding it in its proper place? Could you still connect with God if it were gone for a while?