Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Shifty Character

When I was about three or four years old, my parents bought a brand new car: a Volkswagen Beetle. If I remember right (from conversations in later years), they paid about $1700 for that new car.

I would sit between Mom and Dad in the little Beetle. (Yes, I am a survivor of the pre child-safety-seat and seatbelt usage era.) Somewhere along the line Dad showed me how to shift the car. I knew which gear to shift it into next, and, to know when to do so, I had only to watch Dad’s left foot. When he depressed the clutch, I shifted.

I didn’t need to see the whole picture. I didn’t need to steer. I didn’t even need to know the destination. My only requirement was to be faithful in what I had been given to do. My father took care of the rest.

There are several lessons I can apply to my life today from my early experience of being a shifty little character:

I don’t have to see the whole picture. I could do my job of shifting just fine even though I was so small my view out the windshield was limited to the sky. –In fact, when my view is limited, the best place to look is up! In my life today, I’m also too “small” to see the whole view. 12For now we see through a glass, darkly;" I Cor. 13:12a). I need to keep this in mind.

I don’t have to be in control. This is a tough one for me. I like control! But controlling my own life when my view is so limited makes no more sense than letting a small child steer when they can’t see out the windshield. And the results can be similarly disastrous.

I am dependent. This is another tough one for me. I treasure (and pride myself in) my independence, my “I can do it myself” attitude. But I am not really independent at all. Just as I had to depend on Dad to get us where we were going, and trust that he would take me to good places, so I need to acknowledge my dependence on God to do the same in my life. Being willing to admit this is, I believe, one aspect of our need to become like little children. “Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:4 NIV

I need to know (and do) my job. I had to learn how—and when—to shift. It wasn’t something I could do automatically or without practice. In the same way, I need to be diligent in whatever work the Lord has for me. Just as I needed to have the knowledge to shift correctly and the focus to watch for the cue to do so, I need to do my best in whatever the Lord has for me to do. In writing, for example, I need to study to improve my skills and I need to keep my focus on what He wants me to communicate. Not on the thousand and one other things that vie for my attention. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” 2 Timothy 2:15 NIV

Just as in my childhood experience of shifting our little car:
I don’t need to see the whole picture. I don’t need to steer. I don’t even need to know the destination. My only requirement is to be faithful in what I have been given to do. My Father will take care of the rest.

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart                                  
And lean not on your own understanding;                                        
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. (Prov. 3:5-6 NKJV)



  1. Shelly, this is so powerful! I am going to benefit from this. And I know many will be blessed by your wisdom.

  2. Great and deep thoughts! You have reminded us of how little we are and how BIG our God is. Thanks!

    (That was my "job" in our VW, too!)

  3. Shelly, this is powerful! I am faced with a decision this week and after reading this I realized, I am looking for the whole picture. Instead of stepping out in faith and allowing God to do His part. Wow! I feel like this post was just for me! Hugs!

  4. Wonderful and desperately important reminder.

    Thanks, Shelly.

  5. Shelly,
    I learned to drive a stick shift... and yes, my first car was a VW!! :) I don't even like to drive manual cars. We let our kids shift, just as you described, and all but one can drive a stick shift now. :)
    I love your life applications! What a beautiful and poignant reminder of what our roles in life are with regard to what the Lord has planned for us!

  6. Oh, Shelly, love the lesson - and the application! (and the TITLE of this blog! Great stuff. Thanks, my dear.

  7. Great annalogy and good reminder. Thanks!

  8. Fantastic message in here, Shelley, and so applicable... I love the idea of watching the sky and placing my faith squarely on our Father behind the wheel. Great, great stuff! Thanks so much for sharing :)



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