So the other day, I discussed the importance of knowing HOW to use the tools we have in order to deal with the unexpected things in our life that tend to slow us down. Whether it is a case, like mine, of using the air pump to inflate a bike tire, or something more complex as using the prayers/support of Christian friends to inflate my tired, weary spirit during difficult times…actually using the tools properly is key.
Today, I want to continue the tale of this educational bike ride and share a few more thoughts on using what we have and knowing what we need…not just to fix a flat tire, but to fill our deflated hearts.
There I was, pumping vigorously with the hand pump into a persistently flat tire. I THOUGHT I was doing it right, but unsure, I decided to try something else. Realizing I was just a mile or so away from a gas station, I decided to carefully walk my bike up to the large AIR pump there. Maybe that would have enough air to inflate the tire. I knew how to use that (thanks to MANY flat car tires!), so I felt more confident about this prospect for success. Finally, I arrive at the gas station. “AIR 25 cents”…WHAT!?!? “I have to pay for air? Ridiculous!” As I sat there pondering my next move (for I had no change on hand), a man pulled up, dropped his coin in the slot and began to fill his car tires with the precious air. “Hmph!,” I thought to myself, “if only I had some money, I could get the air I need and be out of here!” I, regretfully, was jealous of this man, his money, the air that I felt belonged to me. How many times do we look at what someone else has (or maybe just what WE don’t have) and believe that if we had THAT, we would have what we need to move forward in life, to get out of the bad place we’re in? “If I just had money like So-and-So, I could finally pay off my bills, go back to school, get a better job.” “If I just had a better body I would feel more confident, make more friends, be more attractive to my spouse.” “If my kids had more….”–well, you get the picture. We often look at what others have and think that it is what we need to have. The Bible reminds us to be content with what we have and, as a result, we will have what we need:
“Don’t be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with what you have. Since God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,” we can boldly quote, God is there, ready to help; I’m fearless no matter what. Who or what can get to me?” (Hebrews 13: 5-6)
So there I sat, TRYING to be content with my hand pump, and feeling deflated each time I tried it and watched the tire stay flat. “If ONLY I had that pump, that air!,” I said, frustration filling up within me. Suddenly, the man, finished with his own tires, offered “his” air to me. “Thank you, Lord!” I prayed as I thanked the man and we began to inflate my tire. Finally! I would be on my way…I had everything I needed!
Except, the tire stayed flat…well, it inflated quickly and then just as quickly, went back to flat. I had just THOUGHT I needed a pump…I believed I needed AIR to fix my problem, but what I really needed, was a NEW TIRE! Sometimes, when we get what we ask for, we realize that it isn’t what we need. More money, better bodies, nicer homes…these things we may want, we may get, but often we discover that the problems that these things were going to fix are still there. These things may even serve to patch up areas in our lives, briefly inflate our spirits, but eventually, we are empty again and stuck on the side of life’s road wondering, “What now?”
“Now wait a minute,” you might be thinking, “What about contentment?” Well, sometimes we confuse contentment with resignation. I could have been content to walk my bike home, set it in the corner and forget about it. I could have resigned myself to the fact that I did not NEED a new tire for my bike, I had other ways to do things. There my bike would sit, another tool available to me, unusable because I hadn’t done what it took to keep it moving forward. Patching up the tire would mean that it could become flat again at any time…making my rides inefficient and potentially dangerous. Putting my bike on a rack in the garage would be a waste of a safe and effective means of exercise and recreation with my family. A new tire would be the tool I needed to maximize the effectiveness of my journey.
Sometimes what we need is to stop patching up our problems- which serve only to make our lives less effective and efficient-or moving them to the corner of our hearts where they take up space where other, more important things should reside. We need to be content with what God gives us, but, care for our gifts so that we can use them effectively and efficiently as we use them to move forward through life according to HIS path for us.
When the new tire was placed on my bike, it felt like a brand new bike! It was like Christmas all over again…When we allow God to fix our flat hearts, we, too, can become a new creation. Sometimes, all we need is a little air, a little filling of the Holy Spirit. Other times, we need to go to the Master, let him search us. Finding not just the hole that has left us empty, but completely replacing our pierced hearts. When we receive this transforming Breath of the Holy Spirit, we are repaired, restored, renewed. We no longer have to fear the path on which we ride, we are content with the knowledge that His Will, His Way is perfect, pleasing, good…and exactly everything we need.
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. ” (Romans 12:2)