I learned a valuable lesson last week: Don’t play chicken with a New York cab driver! I was parked in NYC and trying to edge my way into traffic for quite some time. Impatient, I determined I needed to get more aggressive. As the light ahead turned red, I attempted to insert myself between a large truck and a yellow cab thinking, “He’s got nowhere to go. Why wouldn’t he let me in.” We locked eyes as I inched the car forward. The thing is I was so busy challenging him I missed the truck’s rear platform jutting out below my line of sight. It hooked onto my car and pulled my right fender and half of my front bumper off. When I glanced back at the cabby, he just shook his head as he pulled around the melee. Gratefully, the truck driver couldn’t have been nicer as he and his partner helped me reattach the dangling front end with string and bungee cords in order to proceed. Why do I travel with string and bungee cords? Well, let’s just say this wasn’t my first rodeo.
There’s a lot of wisdom in the saying, “If you play with fire, you’re going to get burned.” A warning drummed into me as a child, it is especially true when driving in New York but also in my spiritual life. Whenever I’ve tossed caution and conscience to the wind and inserted myself in situations and with people I had no business being a part of, there was always a collision of some sort. Ditto whenever I’ve grown impatient for God to act and decided to be more aggressive and take matters into my own hands – a disastrous strategy everytime. The problem is by running ahead I get further and further from His presence and His will for me. The collision is usually a consequence of my own actions, BUT God uses it to get my attention and redirect me.
Sound familiar? Life offers a plethora of obstacles or “brick walls” that bring us to our knees. Some may be self-inflicted but others are just a result of living in a broken world. It could be a health challenge, a financial setback, the loss of a loved one, a marriage, a job, a home, a dream. The list is endless. I don’t believe for a minute that God causes hardships, but I know for a fact He doesn’t waste anything and will use them for His purposes. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)
So, where’s the spiritual lesson in all this, you might be wondering? All this talk about string and bungee cords made me think of Ecclesiastes 4:12, “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” It would behoove all of us to travel through life with strong string and a sturdy bungee cord. The string is the fellowship of other believers who can hold you together when things are falling apart. The bungee cord is God who gives us the freedom to pull away from Him but without releasing His sovereignty or protection over us. This unbreakable connection allows us to bounce back into His everlasting arms when we finally choose to surrender our will to His.
Today may be a good time to ask, “How strong is my string? Am I testing the elasticity of my spiritual bungee cord?” Short cuts and quick fixes may work on car parts, but they are woefully ineffective when it comes to spirituality. Here there is only one remedy – a hefty weighted string with an immeasurable MBR (minimum breaking strength.) There is only one source of this kind of might: divine twine, and it’s readily available if we so choose - but not at your local hardware store. It can only be acquired by nurturing a strong relationship with a Divine power interlaced with the fellowship of other believers. We all get our carefully constructed bumpers ripped off occasionally as we travel through life. It would be wise to choose to keep your cord of three strands strong (and readily accessible) to help you when the collisions of life occur.
This recent fender bender is not the first time I’ve arrived home held together by string and bungee cords with “some ‘splainin to do!”* My family is used to it and so is God. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stretched that connection to the max. So much so that I can gratefully attest to the veracity of Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” It's His promise to us - no strings attached! We simply have to choose to believe.