Some years back, Mary and I had a neighbor who would start and run his very loud pickup truck for 10 or 15 minutes in the driveway before leaving for work. It was obvious that he had modified the exhaust system so that it was much louder. Did I mention that all this would take place before 6 AM? Our properties were situated so that even with our windows closed, it was sleep-depriving. We thought that he could save money on gas by not letting his truck run without going anywhere, that modern engines do not need an extensive warmup period, that the burning of fossil fuels can create greenhouse gases. He was unresponsive to our appeals. Thankfully God could hear our prayers over the noise of the truck and moved him and his family to another location!
I think Brian’s truck gives us a lesson during this time of being sequestered. Many of us are mentally and emotionally running our engines at high speed–in the driveway. We are in a continuous state of stimulation, but without any outlet for profitable action.
What is more, we tend to add to the level of stimulation. We rev ourselves up.
- Too much news–especially that which places blame. Be informed, but not inflamed. Ignorance is not virtue, but a constant bombardment of negative news stories overwhelms us.
- Too much food–it is fuel for a journey we will not take, and leaves us less healthy and more guilty feeling. Alcohol consumption rose 55% in March over a year earlier. Mary and I watched a woman literally stumble out of a liquor store (essential business!) with four bottles of alcohol and get in her car and drive away.
- Need to control–when so much is out of control, we very much want to have some things be in control. Trouble is, others in our home want the same thing. What could possibly go wrong? Remember your engine is revving at a high RPM–and theirs is too most likely. Extra grace is required.
All this can leave us exhausted even though, metaphorically speaking, we have not left our driveway.
What helps? In the Song of Solomon the bride confesses: …they made me keeper of the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept! Song of Solomon 1:6 Self-neglect will catch up to us. Three “E’s” to help us thrive:
- Exercise Scripture tells us “...bodily training is of some value…” 1 Timothy 4:8 A walk or run in the beauty of the nascent spring is good for body and soul.
- Energetic praying–the rest of 1 Timothy 4:8—godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. In Colossians 4, the Apostle Paul commends Epaphras who is: …always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. Colossians 4:12 What if one of God’s big objectives in all this is to decrease our trust in our ability to control things and to increase our trust in him? Other versions say that Epaphras is “wrestling in prayer.” The Greek word is agōnizomai–can you see our English equivalent? Let’s up our game!
- Engagement–small acts can bring large blessings to us and to those that we bless. A phone call or note, a package left on the steps of a neighbor, prayer for someone who is sick or alone from their front yard.
Will this work? Listen to the word of the Lord.
Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. Psalm 34:14&15
Verse 14 tells us to seek peace, to pursue it. It won’t be easy with our engines revved up in the driveway of life. But it is a worthy quest, and one we can expect to achieve because God has not left us on our own: The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry.
All grace to you,