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On the Road of Life

April 11, 2011

My car has a feature that calculates the miles per gallon I am getting as I drive down the road. I have a short mile and a half commute to church. When I first leave home, the calculator starts low and changes often. It usually registers about 7 mpg at the first intersection. I can sometimes get it up to 20 by the time I get to church. But a red light, a long wait, or cold weather can significantly change that. Coming home is up hill, and I’m lucky to make 15 mpg. 

I was recently on a long 800 mile road trip and noticed something interesting. On our road trip, this same start up phenomenon occurred. In the first 10 to 20 miles, we saw lots of changes. Gradually, the gauge settled in and held to within a few tenths of a mpg. Whether we were going up a long grade or down a steep hill, very little change occurred. The many miles had created an average that was minimally influenced by external conditions. 

When we begin our Christian journey, we might have significant fluctuations in our experience. In our first steps, we may experience a tremendous high. We are joyous as we shed our guilt, our reliance on human effort, or the fear of an uncertain eternity. Or we may face a cynical family or even hostile associates who taunt us about our ‘conversion’. We may feel we are ‘back sliding’ and losing the joy and hope we thought we had found. A tragedy can rock the foundation of our faith. A great song can make us feel in the company of angels. A word of scripture touches our heart and we feel we have heard the voice of God. 

All of these instances point to the fact that our highs can be really high and our lows can be extremely frightening. But over time, these gyrations can be mitigated by a deepening sense of God’s gracious presence. We experience his provision in times of need or his comforting presence in times of heart ache. We cultivate an intimate relationship through prayer and develop a heart characterized by joy and gratitude for His grace. 

Life is not easier. We still face the same steep hills, brake for the same speed bumps, and coast down the long scenic grade, but because we have developed a deeper relationship with God, the storms of life do not overwhelm us. The longer the trip, the less it is about the driver and the more it is about the car. In our faith journey, time teaches us that it is less about us and more about God.

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