This week I learned a really important lesson: if you drag your feet on something that either you should have done already or is otherwise inevitable, sometimes God gives you a push. When that happens, it’s time to pay attention.
The Car Accident
“You’ve had that car for over ten years! It’s time to get a new one!”
That’s what I imagined God was saying to me as I stepped out of my vehicle to check on the driver of the other car.
On my way to work one Thursday morning, a Buick Park Avenue going the opposite direction turned into my lane attempting to pull into a parking lot to my right. The driver either didn’t see me or thought she could beat me, but there was barely time to react. I hit the brakes, skidded (in what seemed like slow motion, I might add), and hit the rear passenger side of the crossing vehicle.
There were no other passengers in either car, and thankfully both myself and the other driver appeared completely fine. She was a little shocked and relatively speechless, but as I was only going about 30 to begin with, the hit wasn’t as jarring or painful as it could have been.
Of course, that was easy to say about us; it wasn’t quite as easy to say about either of our vehicles.
In particular, the front of my 2005 Hyundai Elantra – which I’d been driving now for more than a decade – was dented, crushed, and pushed in from roughly the middle out to the passenger side. The passenger door wouldn’t even open because the fender chassis had been pushed back into it.
And while there didn’t appear to be any leaking fluids, it didn’t smell great on the inside. There was a very distinct, acrid, burning smell that I couldn’t quite place. And because it wasn’t wearing a seat belt, my Mello Yello was all over the dash, console and floor.
Dragging Your Feet
I had been thinking about getting a new car for the last couple of years, especially after my wife got a new Honda CR-V this past September. Given that I had had my Elantra since December of 2006, it was feeling more and more like the time was coming to bite the bullet and get on with it.
But there were at least a couple of things holding me back.
For one, I didn’t think I had the money, and my job situation was not looking the best for adding a car payment to my monthly bills. I didn’t have anything in savings, and with Emily and I intending to have another baby this year, saving, rather than spending, was of utmost importance. As it was, the car had just passed 150k miles and was still doing quite well, despite some little issues here and there.
Secondly, this car had been a part of my life since right after I moved to Nashville. It had been there for just about every major moment I’d experienced in the span of over ten years. That’s incredibly difficult to let go of. It sounds absolutely ridiculous but when you’ve had a car for that long a time, it becomes more than a part of you – it becomes very much its own living thing. A member of your family, even.
If not for the accident, I likely would have held onto it for at least another couple of years, until things settled a little with our finances and our potential second child.
But that’s obviously not what God wanted me to do.
God Gives You A Push
I pulled the rental car into the tow lot and parked next to the old Elantra. It looked old, beaten and sad – like I’d abandoned it or left it to die. I didn’t like that feeling.
“Oh, hey there, Elantra! I can’t drive you anymore. So you’re going to a new place. Bye bye!”
It’s silly, but that’s how it felt.
I had a lot of things to remove from the car, in case it was in fact deemed totaled. Even so, I took my time. I had a feeling this would be the last time I’d see it. As I drove away fifteen minutes later, I couldn’t take my eyes off the car. It’s that same feeling you have when you tell yourself it’s your last cigarette and you take every last possible drag you can take off that thing. I just wasn’t ready to let go.
“You’ve had that car for over ten years! It’s time to get a new one!”
Yes, yes, I know. I don’t like it (and I presume that that’s precisely why God went right ahead and did it anyway), but I understand that because You forced the issue, there must be very important reason why You did.
So why is that?
Why God Gives You A Push
I’m a very big believer in the idea that God puts challenges in front of you with the intention of showing you how capable and amazing you actually are. You gain confidence and character by facing those challenges and overcoming them.
I also believe God has a path for everyone. He lays things out in such a way that should you walk that path, you fulfill what He has intended for you. But, ultimately, that path is yours to walk. It’s up to you to make the choices that lead you to your destiny.
What I’ve learned with this experience (and, actually, a few others that happened this past year), is that sometimes God gives you a push and makes the choice for you. It’s a rare thing, but if you’re able to look at the moment in hindsight, it becomes clear why He does this – something was impending and He needed to get involved pronto.
God… get involved? Isn’t He supposed to be kind of hands-off with this stuff?
Well yes… and no. God is fascinating, and He isn’t quite so simple as that.
The 8 Ball
You’re an 8 ball on a billiards table. God’s intention is to get you into the corner pocket of His choice after He’s taken care of all the other balls. He had a beautiful break (as He would) and everything seems lined up for Him to work His way from one ball to the next until He finally comes to you.
But you… you little 8 ball… you have free will, don’t you? God lines up the 6 and sinks it, and for some reason you decide to get adventurous and roll your way over to a side pocket. But it’s not time yet – God is still lining all of this up for you!
Oblivious, you roll along, heading for that side pocket – where you’ll disappear forever, ending the game of you.
So what does God do about that?
By saying “He cheats”, what I mean is that He breaks the rules of the reality He’s created; He does something very purposeful in your life. In this case, He grabs your silly little 8 ball face and moves you back to the middle of the table. Or, perhaps, He sticks the 3 in your way.
In any event, He breaks through and does something. Because He has to.
And you know He does this. How could something like Jesus Christ happen otherwise?
As it is, trusting God doesn’t seem to make much sense if He isn’t somehow actively involved in your life.
God Has Something Incredible Prepared For You
I don’t know yet why God stepped in and “cheated” for me. It’s too early to tell. I may not ever really know. Sometimes it’s very clear why, and other times you just have to take it on faith.
Nonetheless, I know God is looking out for me. I know He enacts drastic measures when there’s something that needs immediate attention. I lament the loss of a gigantic piece of my life, but I rejoice in the fact that it’s part of something bigger. Something incredible that God has planned for me.
So keep your heart open. Know that when God gives you a push, something amazing is indeed waiting for you.