Are we standing on the brakes or the gas?

Published 10:04 am Thursday, September 17, 2015

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you. Only let us hold fast to what we have attained. (Philippians 3:14-16)

Paul Greer is a retired pastor who helps me serve the Lynchburg District. Recently he wrote the following devotion.

“In general, standing on the gas and brakes at the same time is self-defeating. In racing, this is a skill that exceptional drivers learn to master. When entering a corner they will brake with their left foot while keeping the right foot on the gas. The brakes are used to shift the weight of the car forward onto the front wheels. Having the other foot on the gas takes full advantage of that weight shift to turn and accelerate at the same time. I think this is a skill that we, the body of Christ should seek to master.

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Somewhere we are in-between where we started our journey and the finish line. We have a vision, the image of Christ. What is often lacking is a plan as to how we will get there.

When we stand on the gas, we burn the tires off the car going the wrong way. If we stand on the brakes we go nowhere.  Often, we do both at the same time.

The apostle Paul often used the image of a marathon runner. Holding himself up as an example, Paul talks about pressing on toward the goal and asks us to imitate him.

Once preparations are made, it’s time to stand on the gas.  Along the way we may veer off course.  When that happens, we brake to steer back on course, keeping our foot on the gas so that we keep moving. Both feet are needed, but not on the same pedal. A balance must come into play if we are going to press on to the goal.

There is an old story about a young rabbi who came to serve a synagogue. No matter what he tried, half the congregation was at odds with the other. In desperation he went to see the old rabbi and said, “When I ask them to stand during prayer half stand and half don’t.” The old rabbi smiled and said, “Yes, that is their tradition.” Put another way, half are standing on the gas and the other half are standing on the brakes.

Where are your feet planted?

Prayer:  Master, help us develop the skill of balancing our actions so that we stay on course.  Amen.

LARRY DAVIES is Lynchburg district superintendent of the United Methodist Church. His email address is