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The Need for Speed

I love to drive. I began driving when I was around eight years old. Rather than going on a family vacation that year, my parents bought us a little four-wheeled all-terrain vehicle (ATV). We lived out in the country with plenty of land and I made good use of every square inch of it, whizzing around trees and over hills. The faster I went and the more things I jumped over, the better. No one in my childhood got a photo of my helmet-free shenanigans, but the photo here gives you an idea.

When I turned fifteen, Mom took me to the DMV in her mini-van to take my driver’s test for a learner’s permit. I walked away with that precious piece of plastic with the horrible picture on it as proud as could be. I was allowed to operate a vehicle by myself during daylight hours and with an adult after dark. When I turned sixteen, the after-dark restriction was lifted and I was FREE.

My parents bought me an orange Ford Fiesta that was almost as old as me. I was assured by my parents that if I ever got a speeding ticket, my car would immediately be taken away from me. I was also assured that if my grades weren’t good, if I talked back to them, or if I got into any trouble of any kind, my car would be GONE. It was a good deterrent to getting into trouble, but I still believed I was invincible and had no intention of driving slow. (No one bothered to take a picture of me with my awesome car either, but you can see here how absolutely awesome I was in high school.)

I’m not sure how I kept from getting a speeding ticket. I got pulled over for speeding on a fairly regular basis. I was used to the four-wheeler, where the point was to go as fast as possible around anything in my path for the thrill of it, and I didn’t realize that wasn’t a good policy for driving a car. My car was a little orange torpedo! But somehow, every time I got stopped, I was merely given a warning. One highway patrol officer who stopped me on the interstate spoke very firmly to me and didn’t let me go until I understood the impact one of those eighteen-wheelers could have on my little tin can of a car. I’m grateful for that man today. He really did slow me down quite a bit.

I liked to run as close to the maximum speed I could get away with, and if I was in a hurry, then I pushed it a little further. But about twenty years ago, I heard that still, small voice of God whispering in my ear, “Slow down.”

I tried to ignore the voice, hoping it wasn't actually God. But it was like God’s face got closer to mine, right beside me, and again the whisper came, “Do you trust Me?” If I turned my head fast enough, I was sure I’d be able to catch a glimpse of Him. That was how real the voice was to me. I thought the question of trust was a little odd, considering that we were talking about driving too fast. But the answer to His question was, “Yes. I trust You.” And so I slowed down.

I often traveled on a highway where the speed limit is 55 mph. I typically drove in the left lane, going as fast as the cars in front me would go. The first time I set my cruise control to 55, everything inside me rose up, screaming and crying like a two-year old who has been told to take a nap when everyone else is playing games. Cars were flying by me, practically honking as they passed, totally annoyed by my slowness. I wanted to scream out the window, “I know!”

I tried to go a few miles over the speed limit to be less obnoxious, but the question returned, “Do you trust Me?” Grr…. So I dropped back down to EXACTLY 55. Tapping my fingers on the steering wheel, frustrated beyond belief, I poked along. Inside I was about to boil over in total frustration, but I kept the speed down in obedience.

I worked through the frustration and learned a new way to drive. Rather than looking for the holes in traffic so I could pass everyone else, I learned how to stay out of the way. I also learned something that totally amazed me: driving the speed limit didn’t really slow me down much. I still arrived at my destination in about the same amount of time as when I had driven much faster. The screaming inside me died down and I began to relax as I drove. Driving that way has probably lowered my blood pressure significantly – once I got over the frustration, that is.

After I had been driving the speed limit for several months, I was really late to teach a class at church so I sped the whole way, hoping God would understand. (I was speeding in order to be on time to serve Him, right?) Oh, the wonderful feeling of driving fast! I felt like I could breathe again… And so I fell back into my habit of driving too fast. I stuck my fingers in my ears and attempted to ignore the prompting to slow down. God let me have my way for a few days and then He showed up in my car again, face right up next to mine, impossible to ignore, but as usual speaking to me in a loving whisper. Why are you speeding?”

“I really like to drive fast, God. You’re killing me here. Can’t You just leave me alone on this one?”

Um, yes… I was trying to bargain with God.

“Why are you speeding, Kimberly?” Uh, oh. He asked the question twice. God’s about to make a point.

Why am I speeding? I was doing so good for several months. After calming the volcano inside, why did I allow it to erupt again? And then the answer came to me so clearly that I nearly stopped the car. I was driving on a little stretch of road where the speed limit is 30 mph (which is CRAZY) and I was driving 45, right along with everyone else. Okay, so maybe I was passing everyone else… But really, 30 mph?

The answer was, “I’m speeding because at this time in my life, everything is moving so slowly that at least when I drive, I can speed things up a bit.” And to get really honest, I had to add, “I’m kind of mad at You, God. You’re taking too long. You’re moving too slowly. Could You please move things along a little faster?”

With that reality smacking me in the face, I slowed down to 30 mph and moved into the right lane. The speed junkie inside me got all nervous and tried to have it’s fit again, but I told it to shut up. I finally understood why God had asked me the question, “Do you trust Me?”

To say that I’ve been frustrated at the speed of my life is a vast understatement. Things never seem to be moving fast enough for me. Never. And so with frustration building inside me, I began to speed again. Without even realizing it, I expressed my dissatisfaction with the speed of His timing in a passive-aggressive way. One of my friends posted a new blog about God’s perfect timing and it was everything I could do not to comment on it, “Yeah, He’s SLOW.”

“Do you trust Me, Kimberly?”

As I pondered that question, driving around town without speeding, I had to acknowledge that it’s very hard to trust Him when He isn’t meeting my expectations. I gave my life to serve Him and I thought that entitled me to an amazing life. A smooth and easy life. Maybe even a highly successful life.

“Do you trust Me, Kimberly?”

I've comforted myself over the years with the stories from the Bible: Joseph was taken from prison to the palace in a matter of days; Noah appeared crazy to everyone around him until the rain started; David lived in the wilderness running for his life until he became king; and Peter was a simple fisherman until Jesus decided to make him the rock upon which He built The Church. If the dreams that I have for my life never turn out like I hope, will I still trust God?

As I read the One Year Bible, I felt confused by the way God randomly allowed people to remain in their sin at times, then at other times He struck them dead. The kings of Israel (Ahab, for example) were total pagans, but they were allowed to live and reign. King Herod Agrippa (in Acts) took some credit for God and got worms and died. As I prayed for God to reveal more of His character to me, I was hit with a profound sense of God’s mercy and compassion. We ALL deserve to be struck dead, but He gives us chance after chance to do the right thing.

Rather than question why God isn't working things out fast enough, I decided to praise Him for His mercy and compassion. He gives His people chance after chance after chance to serve Him. He waited for them, as He waits for me. I get frustrated with how slow God is, but how slow am I?

I can't tell you that it never bugs me to drive slowly today. There are times when I catch myself speeding and have to tell the speed junkie to chill out. (I really need another four-wheeler.) What I can say with total confidence is that I believe God is working out the details of my life and that it is His great pleasure to bless me. I’m thankful for the joys that God has allowed me in life. He has given me the loving family I so longed for all those years ago, He has blessed me with numerous other things that it would be obnoxious to list out here. If that’s all He ever gives me, I will continue to thank and serve Him. If He ever chooses to give me more, I will be grateful and give Him all the glory for it.

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