“Learn to live at Godspeed,” Mindy Caliguire taught in the Strengthening Our Soul soul care Collective I participated in this past Spring.
Her choice of words immediately brought me back to an illustration God gave me at another time when life was particularly full. I was two years into my ministry with my current agency and the pace of work started picking up. The requests came more frequently and the decisions were harder.
“I feel like I’m driving a wagon at full speed and it’s about to take off and drag me behind,” I told some friends, finally able to put words to my feelings.
“I could devote more time to the office, emails, and appointments, but what about the carefully scheduled soul care time that I crave? The home chores I do to keep life orderly? The writing I enjoy that energizes me? The margin I need to deal with unexpected grief and unwelcome illness? And of course, the time and energy required to maintain and improve my key relationships?”
Now seven years later, I have a different position with greater responsibilities and higher demands. But the feelings remain the same.
I recall my visit to my then spiritual director. She asked me to draw my racing wagon. I still chuckle as I visualize my feeble attempt to capture my state. While the square box with lines and stick horses confirmed I am no artist, it did reveal that I had placed myself in the driver’s seat holding the reins.
Her follow-up question caused me to pause:
Where are you in this picture and where do you want to be?
I knew that sitting in the driver’s seat holding the reins was faulty. If not in the driver’s seat, was I sitting in the carriage, along for the ride? Or being dragged behind holding on for dear life? No, the first was too passive and the second too frantic. I knew I had a part to play to prevent an out-of-control race.
I had tried controlling the wagon by myself and ended up anxious, scattered, and frustrated. I chose at that moment to let go of the reins.
Next, she asked:
Where is God and who do you believe he is?
Is God standing on the seat wielding a whip shouting at me to drive faster? Is he waving his finger, telling me how I’m not doing it right? Is he a passenger in the wagon, expecting me to figure it out all by myself? Or is he somewhere else, indifferent to my journey?
I knew and realized that God is none of these things. Instead, he is the patient, kind driver of my life. With my good in mind, he is the controller of the starts and stops and the speed of the journey.
I now determined where I wanted to be—up on the seat with him holding the reins together. His hands over mine showing me how to drive, lovingly teaching me how to keep the horses and wagon under control. Tenderly telling me at what pace to travel, when to stop and rest, when to gallop, when to take on passengers (people I minister to) and how many at a time. When to totally get off the wagon and take a real break. And never condemning when I grab the reins and take over out of fear, or pride, or guilt.
Caliguire’s words reminded me to return again to what I learned all those years ago. With God as my guide, we can together control the pace of this journey and I can relax and enjoy the ride without a spirit of frantic desperation.
Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen to God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil (MSG)! This will bring healing to your body and refreshment to your inner self (NET)!Proverbs 3:5–8
If you drew an illustration of your journey, where are you? Where is God? How might you adjust your position and pace? How can you run at God’s speed?
Father, help me learn to live at your speed. I release the reins of my life into your control. I know there are periods when I need you to do all the driving, but I accept that I cannot merely sit back as a passenger. I want to learn to cooperate with you and listen to your nudging as we determine my pace together. Thank you for being a gentle teacher.
This post is adapted from a piece on my personal blog: https://evaburkholder.com/2016/03/21/racing-wagon/