Yesterday someone was sharing a story and in it spoke of someone driving a 4 speed standard transmission automobile years ago (one that requires the driver to shift gears). The person driving the vehicle must not have known how to drive a standard. As the story goes, the driver said, “I found a gear that worked and I just stuck with it.” That was not the main point of the story, but that part made quite an impression on me.
I want to be careful here. Sometimes it’s OK to stick with things. If you’ve been to Myrtle Beach 25 years in a row and you enjoy that, there’s no harm in that. I personally like seeing different places. (I count it a blessing that I have walked cliffs on the shoreline of Maine, been in a traffic jam in Yellowstone as we waited for Bison to move from the road, lived with a family in Ghana, Africa for a week, and hiked Zion and Bryce Canyons in Utah.) And sometimes it’s imperative we stick with things. Except in rare cases, we need to stick with marriages, even though they require work.
Then there are times we definitely need to shift gears. Anyone who has driven a standard transmission vehicle knows what happens if you are running 15 mph in 4th gear. The car shakes and jerks. And if you’re in 1st gear and you try running 40 or 50 mph, you can literally hear the poor engine whine, begging for change. Sometimes it’s obvious a change is needed.
But in my experience, in a modern day 5 speed, if you find 3rd gear, it won’t jerk too bad when you go slow and won’t whine too bad when you go fast. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shift gears. It simply means you’re in a gear that will work for both. The difficult part of life is being willing to change or make a shift when things aren’t dreadful. Sometimes we settle for the status quo because it’s the easy thing. Change is difficult. Driving a standard requires two hands and two feet: one hand to steer, one hand to shift, one foot to work the clutch, and one foot for the gas/brake. It’s easier to run in third, but it’s not how the transmission is designed to work. It’s made for change.
And we are made for change. As followers of Jesus, we are supposed to be growing to be more Christ-like, shifting gears so to speak. The book of John chapter 3 has Jesus describing to Nicodemus becoming born-again, and then quotes John the Baptist saying, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” That my brothers and sisters, requires some change – some shifting gears. And while it’s not easy, rest assured we were designed for it.