Tooling along a forest highway in the middle of nowhere a couple years ago, headed to a job interview, my breath catches a little. My eyes have just spotted the engine temperature gauge pointing in an unpleasant direction. I pull over and open the hood. The coolant reservoir is hissing, bubbling and trembling like a Yellowstone geyser.
Perfect. Interview aborted. Hope I can limp the 50 miles back to my mechanic. (Welcome to Montana.)
I get back in and start waiting for the engine to cool down. After five minutes listening to the endless clicking of the double blinkers (“uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-oh“), the sweltering heat forces me out of the car and into the shade of a nearby tree.
Standing there, one thought inexorably seeps in: my bank account is going to feel this. Again.
And an answering thought on the heels of the first – harder to put words to, because it’s one of those deep-soul thoughts, more feeling than word.
This is pitiful.
I’m not worried about getting home. This is about something deeper. It’s a reaction to my constant car troubles, and to a resulting bank account that isn’t where I want it to be (although at least I’m not in debt). It smacks of judgment, of failure.
Car troubles are something that everyone understands, so my sense of embarrassment ought to be diluted. But feelings insist. Quit making excuses, shmuck. Get it together. And lie. Nobody else really has your talent for picking bad cars. And compare. Your friends are out buying houses and taking vacations in Hawaii.
Frustration growing, I do again what I’ve been trying to do all year. Turn to Scripture. Out loud. It’s about making yourself hear it. Information is processed in a different way when it enters the ear than when it stays in the mind.
“The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV
“Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them.” – James 1:9 NLT
Okay. Scripture’s in the mix now. The roadside wait has become one of those collisions between feelings and truth. Life could be viewed as a string of these full-on brawls for my allegiance. What am I going to choose? Because it is a choice.
Am I going to take the word of God seriously or not?
We usually know the truth. But how many of us have learned that confessing it out loud can have a greater impact on the inner life? My father taught me that speaking in sarcasm and negativity in his early years actually made the negativity more real in his heart. Something about his brain actually hearing the words externally, rather than just experiencing internally. His words became his inner reality.
The reverse can be true as well. It might be why we find more comfort and value in coffeeshop talks with friends and mentors – spoken words entering our ears. Scripture teaches that our minds and souls are connected in mysterious ways. If Jesus – the one guy who could have done what we usually do and “think” prayers and truths – chose instead to model speaking out loud to the forces of darkness in his path, we might do well to pay attention to his example.
It’s tough at first, takes some time. It felt weird on that highway because that semi driver might have seen me talking to air. My experience: the stronger this habit gets, the easier peace follows. Remaining in Jesus (John 15:4) includes believing what’s true, because He is the Truth.
I chose, out loud on the roadside, to accept God’s standards for me, not my own or anyone else’s. Relief and peace followed during my inching journey home – a little slowly, but they did follow.
Pretty grateful today that God teaches us how to get truth into our brains.
Image credit: Rafael Marquez