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by Phil Ware

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So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it. ... One thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Hebrews 2:1 & Philippians 3:13-14 NLT

    Sitting at the light, the old “three-on-a-tree” white pickup truck was stalled half in the intersection while my dad sat beside me and steamed, “What do you mean you don’t know how to walk the clutch? That’s supposed to be the best driver’s ed program in the nation and they’re not teaching you how to use a manual transmission?”

    “NO SIR!” I shouted back.

    Then, I pulled up and twisted the parking brake handle, slammed the door as I got out of the truck, and started walking toward home... leaving him to get that old “three-on-a-tree” white pickup truck home on his own.

    My dad was mad; I was madder. He had embarrassed and humiliated me. I had never driven a manual transmission (except for an old farm tractor), much less an old “three-on-a-tree” pickup truck. I had managed somehow to lurch my way up several streets, guessing at how to use the totally unfamiliar clutch and the manual transmission. Then I came to the stop light on an up-hill incline. To my horror, several cars pulled up behind me — way too close behind me. I was worse than stuck; every time I tried to go forward, the truck rolled backward a little as it lurched to a killed-engine stop. The eyes of the driver behind me grew bigger as the old white pickup truck rolled backward, closer to him with every failure.

    That was over thirty years ago. I’ve driven manual transmissions of all kinds — tractor-trailer rigs and sports cars as well as everything in between, even my share of “three-on-a-tree” pickup trucks. A manual transmission is second nature to me now, but they were a new and intimidating challenge to me as a gawky, unconfident, beginning driver at 15 years old.

    What brought this memory back to me was the eighteen-wheeler next to me at the light recently. We were on a steep incline. He had to keep revving his engine while maintaining pressure on the clutch to keep his rig ready to go forward without it rolling backward. He was walking the clutch. As I saw him do it so expertly, my mind flashed back to that night in the white truck.

We have to exert so much energy just to stay put, we forget about making progress.
    Life can be many things, but quite often it can be down right hard! We describe those times as “an uphill climb.” We have to exert so much energy just to stay put, we forget about making progress. Before long, we become satisfied with how far we’ve come and we become so discouraged with how far we have to go, that we settle in and try to just stay put by walking the clutch. We can’t begin to think about making the necessary effort to continue our advance on the upward call of God.

    What we so often fail to realize is that staying put requires a lot more effort over the long haul than advancing forward. The Christian life is all about movement, either toward God (Philippians 3:13-14 RSV) or slipping away from the life he wants for us (Hebrews 2:1 NLT). The principle of spiritual inertia is even more dramatic than the physical one. It takes more effort to hold our position without sliding back than it does to continue our growth in the Lord. God designed us to continue our growth in the Lord. Going forward, moving more to be like Christ, is the “natural” spiritual process God designed for us as the Holy Spirit works to transform us to be evermore like Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18). When our growth stagnates — when we become complacent, when we are willing to settle for where we are — we inhibit the work of the Spirit and begin the slow and futile fight of just trying to stay put in our walk in the Lord. The gravity of Satan and sin suddenly have a much stronger pull on our lives. Rather than living in the momentum of grace and the upward call of God, we find ourselves struggling harder to stay where we are than we ever did moving in the direction of Christ and his character.

    God never called us to walk the clutch in our spiritual lives. Instead, he told us to set our eyes on Jesus and keep on that uphill climb. Grace ensures that we will find it less difficult to travel forward as the Spirit empowers us to cover the distance. Let’s never settle for simply walking the clutch and staying put. Complacency is too hard. Staying put is too dangerous. It’s not what we were made to do! We were made to stay on the climb and experience the transformation of the Spirit. So put that clutch in gear, call on God to release the power of the Spirit, and set your sights on Jesus! There may be a lurch or two along the way, but the way is sure and the destination is certain!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. (Hebrews 12:1-2 NLT)

 
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      Title: ""
      Author: Phil Ware
      Publication Date: May 19, 2003


 
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