One day recently I pulled out my chainsaw to tackle the long-overdue task of cutting up some fallen and leaning trees in my yard.
For a long time, I wouldn’t use one of those powerful instruments at all, mainly due to the tales my wife told me about chainsaw-related injuries she had dealt with back when she was an ER nurse. So although I now use that tool occasionally, I do so with great respect and caution.
On this occasion, the job went well for a while. But as I tried to tackle one last tree, I wasn’t quite careful enough and wise enough in how I was cutting. I managed to get the blade bound in the tree and had a hard time getting it free. In the process, my chain quit turning and the saw began to smoke. I was afraid I was burning up the motor or the clutch.
Later I discovered the problem. The brake had come on. I don’t know if it automatically engaged when the saw got stuck or if I may have grabbed the brake lever in my attempts pull the tool free.
At any rate the smoke was coming from the fact that I was giving it gas at the same time the brake was trying to keep the chain from turning. It’s kind of like stepping on the accelerator of the car while firmly holding the brake pedal down. The engine might rev up loudly, but the vehicle is being held back from going anywhere.
Let’s make sure we’re not doing something similar in our relationship with the Lord. Maybe we’re revving up our spiritual engine, but it doesn’t seem like we’re making any progress. We’re going to church more often, reading our Bibles regularly, praying, and generally taking the steps which normally lead to moving forward in our walk with God.
That’s good, but let’s make sure that we aren’t guilty of applying our brakes at the same time. Willful disobedience to God can hold us back from making progress in our spiritual journey. No matter how much we stomp on the accelerator through participating in public worship, attending Bible studies, or even fasting a meal or two in order to spend time in prayer, known sin in our lives will hinder us from making the headway we desire.
Therefore it needs to be dealt with. Stepping even harder on the gas isn’t going to help. We have to get before God with a repentant heart and receive His forgiveness and cleansing concerning that issue. Until we do, it’s going to hold us back or significantly slow us down.
In one place the Bible compares it to weights hindering a runner. It instructs us to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
In another verse, it says the specific sin of pride causes God to resist us — in other words, it puts on the brakes in our relationship with Him.
What’s holding you back from being all God wants you to be? Is your spiritual life smoking with frustration because you’re trying to pursue God while at the same time hanging on to something you know He isn’t pleased with? You’re going to have to look to the Lord to help you lay aside that weight if you want to get back on track.
It’s time to take off the brake, start moving forward, and become a more effective and powerful tool in the hands of the Master.
The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.