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December 15, 2021

Why “All Gas No Brakes” is a Bad Idea (Part 3)

All Gas No Brakes didn’t work for the UT football team this season, and it won’t work for you.

Last week we looked at how it can hurt those around you.  Today we’re looking at why this mantra, even lived subconsciously, can destroy you.

About ten years ago, the Lord gave me a shocking vision of where my life was headed.  It’s hard to describe just how it came to me, but I know I wasn’t dreaming.  I didn’t hear an audible voice, but I knew the Lord was speaking to me.

In this vision, I was running as fast as possible in a rocky, dry, desolate setting.  I knew there was a cliff somewhere in the distance, and I knew if I kept running the way I was, I would plummet over the edge of that cliff.  I knew the cliff was out there, but I didn’t know when I would reach it.  It was only a matter of time.  And then it hit me: I should stop running, but I don’t know how.

 All Gas No Brakes.

I was dumbfounded.  I knew God was telling me something, and my life needed to change.  But I didn’t know what to do!  Working harder wasn’t the answer.  Doing more wasn’t the answer.  I didn’t have an answer.  I just knew that I couldn’t keep living the way I was living and expect anything good to come from it.

At this point in my life, just getting out of bed was a struggle.  I was overwhelmed with what the day held before I even put my feet on the ground.  Every day felt like a “have to” versus a “get to.”  I was joyless.  I was beginning to wonder if I was depressed.  Now I know that I was burned out.

I’m a driven, Type-A, run 100 MPH, do whatever-it-takes to get the job done kind of guy.  An All Gas No Brakes life seemed to be serving me well for most of my life.  But it was also starting to take its toll.  It was killing me.  When I was younger, I could get away with it through pure force of will and abundant energy.  But now the drive was fading and I was running on fumes.

It became clear that even though I was taking care of myself physically, I was doing a horrible job of taking care of myself spiritually.  My faith never wavered, but there was a vast disconnect between God and me.

It didn’t have anything to do with my “quiet times.”  I was still reading my Bible.  I was praying, going to church and “doing” all the things a pastor and follower of Christ is supposed to do, but with one glaring exception.

Too often, I was on my own path to do good, trusting in my own strength and abilities without dependence on my Heavenly Father.  I think I was more personally driven than Spirit-led.

What was I missing?  It seems so obvious now.  What I was missing was rest.  And I don’t mean more sleep or afternoon naps.  I needed a deep, spiritual rest in God.  I needed soul care.  I needed to stop running.

But even though I knew this was what I needed to do, I fought it!  Rest felt wrong.  It felt counterproductive.  It felt SELFISH.  There is just too much to do!  People expect a lot from me.  I can’t let anyone down. I have to keep pushing the gas pedal. 

And if I’m really honest, so much of my self-worth was tied into what I could accomplish.  I marked my worth by achievements and successes.  I wasn’t sure I WANTED to let that go!

I won’t call this a vision from God, but the following thought proved to be the catalyst for finally making a shift in my thinking.

We have all been on an airplane and heard the flight attendant give her safety speech prior to takeoff.  We’ve heard it a thousand times!  The flight attendant always instructs us that if the oxygen masks deploy, we are first to put on our masks and then assist those sitting around us.

I pictured myself running around the plane, making sure everyone else had their oxygen before putting my own mask on.  And then I saw myself collapse in the aisle.

I’m better for everyone if I put the mask on first!  If I take the time to rest, to do the things that feed my soul, give me peace and lighten my heart, I’m a better husband, father, pastor, swim coach, etc.

It’s not selfish to put your mask on first.  It’s not selfish to rest.  In fact, it’s a very Biblical thing to do!!!  I’m sure we all KNOW this on some level.  BUT DO WE DO IT?  The Lord rested.  Jesus rested.  It’s a commandment that the people of God REST.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who struggles with taking his foot off the gas and resting.  I’m learning that my inability to rest shows I’m not fully trusting God.  My drive can be an idol.  And that’s a scary thought.

I find great comfort in Psalm 127:1-2

Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.

I do not want to labor in vain; I’ve eaten the bread of anxious toil, and it does not sit well.  Resting means letting the Lord do the work.  He does the heavy lifting, and my role is to respond to His leading.  The most important thing I can do is not run ahead!

Not laboring in vain means knowing when and how to rest.  It means not thinking too highly of myself.  It requires that I seek God first and find my identity and self-worth solely in Him and not what I aspire to do for Him.

Rest means doing less. I’m convinced that if the Lord is leading, less is actually required of me, and the result is that even more will be accomplished.  This is true of anyone in any profession or any endeavor, for that matter.  I’m all for hard work and self-discipline, but it must be at the Spirit’s leading.

Ken, a friend who has spent years photographing race cars, shared with me a common saying in the racing community: Go flat out until you see God, then brake.

Living with an All Gas No Brakes attitude might take you to God sooner than you’d like.

 

Do you struggle with resting?  Why?  What does that say about how you view life?

What does rest look like to you?  Are you carving time out to do these things?

How do you think your life would improve if you took time to rest?

 

For more info on men’s ministry: riverwest.org/connect/men/

To read previous posts: riverwest.org/category/weekly-sharpening/

 

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