At thirteen I learned to drive a car with an automatic transmission, but as a teen-aged, car-crazed boy there were a lot of cars—some hot—that were off-limits to those who could not work a standard transmission. I was determined to learn. My coolness was at stake.
Our one car was an automatic, but my grandfather, who lived on a farm outside of town, had a ’55 Chevrolet—three on the column. I would sit for long hours and practice shifting smoothly through first, second and third, synchronizing gear shaft and clutch, hand and foot. In theory, I could drive this car.
But I was nervous. Afraid I might get my feet mixed up, hit the gas instead of the clutch, wreck my grandfather’s car and probably knock over a few cows. I was in perfect conflict—dying to drive this car, and afraid I couldn’t actually do it.
After I’d spent several days in the simulator, grandpa wandered out into the garage and watched me run that car through its paces. “Why don’t you give it a try?” he said. I thought he’d never ask.
There was a dirt road that ran from my grandfather’s to my uncle’s farm. I drove to Uncle John’s place that day, grandpa in the front seat and my cousin Mark in the back. I lurched a bit and ground the gears some, but I drove that car.
What astounds me now, looking back, is how eager I was to “give it a try.” Perhaps it was because I wanted something so intently. My love energy drove out my fear energy. Sometimes when we’re quailing, we ask, “How can I banish my fears?” It may be better to ask, “How can I lay hold of my loves?” It’s the difference between running from and running to.
I remember those lines from Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey,” recalling a time when he was—
more like a man
Flying from something that he dreads, than one
Who sought the thing he loved.
If we find these days that we are timid, unhappily sitting in one place, knowing how to live a life in theory…but afraid to put it into action, we can try to exorcise all that dread or we can “seek the thing we love.”
Your small, nail-biting self will insist that “seeking what you love” is a fine idea, but not when you are unhappy at work, and out of sorts at home, still waiting for the lab reports that will dictate your future. First, it will say, you have to settle these issues!
Not so. If we seek the One who is Love, these other things have a way of settling themselves. Jesus put it this way. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be yours as well” (Matthew 6:33).