I think it often and live it always: I missed my calling as a racecar driver.
I remember my first slot car race set that my parents got me. I was the youngest of 3, but the only boy so I got my own room. For some reason, my bed was a “trundle” bed which meant it had another mattress, basically in a large mattress-sized drawer that rolled out from under my bed; presumably for when friends would visit. Not sure what type of commentary this is on the amount of friends I had, but we took that mattress out and replaced it with an electric racing set. So anytime I wanted (and it was often), I could pull that trundle out and my imagination took me 900 mph to the track where I’d swap paint with all the other drivers on that track that day.
If you’re not familiar with this kind of race track set up, let me explain it. Each race car was probably 2-3 inches in length, of a wide variety of designs and colors, and each had a single metal pole that came out under the car between the front wheels. This was intended to keep the car in its lane. Each racecar also had two metal pieces that made connection with metal rails on the track and provided the motor with the electrical current it need to propel the car around the track.
The track took any shape I wanted it to take, but was mostly limited to the few layout suggestions from the box it came in; after all, the ends had to meet up for obviously reasons–the primary reason being that you had to complete the electrical circuit in order for the track to work at all.
Finally, the most critical piece of the set up were the controllers. They came in different styles but the most common and the ones I’m certainly most familiar with are the pistol grip/trigger type. Held in your young hand like a toy gun, there was but one moving part: the trigger. The further you squeezed that trigger in, the faster your racecar would race down the track. To me and my young imagination, it was nothing short of magic.
I spent hours alone and with friends racing cars around the tiny little track, cheering when I won and jeering when I lost. But between the green flag and the checkered flag is where the drama lived. You see, it wasn’t just about going “pedal to the medal” the whole race. No, no, no. You had to know when to gun it and when to back off. After all, there were turns and hazards to be mindful of. If I entered a hairpin turn with my proverbial hair on fire, I could count on flying over the half inch plastic safety rail and maybe even go flying out of the trundle all together and then I’m liable to get some shag carpet wrapped up in the wheels or inner workings of my finely tuned racing automobile. Nope. Couldn’t have that!
I remember when I was introduced to the switch track. In normal racecar track set ups, the two lanes that the cars race on ran parallel for the entire race. But at some point some toy race track manufacturer got the idea of introducing a short segment of track that was essentially an “X” that caused the two lanes to switch places. I don’t think I have to tell you what happened if those two cars happened to be side by side when entering that section of track. Oh, I do? Okay well, they would collide and usually BOTH go flying off the track. It was a scene of carnage and devastation the likes of which no human can fully fathom. And I loved it. When racing a friend, I approached that section actually HOPING for a collision. After all, what could be more thrilling?
The power of the speed at which the car went, and consequently the outcome of the race was literally in the palm of my hand in the form of that pistol gripped trigger mechanism. If I squeezed it on the straightaways and let off just enough on the turns, I could all but guarantee the victory.
Go with me for a second on an analogy that struck me yesterday. It was to do with the power we find in our lives; the power to live, the power to love, the power to forgive, the power to overcome, the power to wait, the power to give sacrificially, the power to serve, and the power to see what others can’t. All the power I need to live the life I desire to live in Christ is within my control. I get to choose how much of my life is filled with the power that is available through God’s own Spirit. Just like that trigger in my hand, I decide how much of the motor of my life is energized by who He is. The more I squeeze that trigger, the more of myself (my agenda, my desires, my will, my plans, my ideas, my preferences) I submit to Him and the power He provides, and consequently the more I am in a position to see that His ways and His will are vastly superior to mine. Consider the game-changing, race-winning, life-altering truth of Romans 8:11:
The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.
What about that slot track, though? It feels quite scripted, doesn’t it? Am I fated to never veer or diverge from this predetermined course? To answer that, let me say that I am not fatalistic in my attitude. What I mean is that I do not think that all the turns and twists are already set in stone and I’m merely a passenger on my own journey, powerless to navigate or change. Not at all. However, I DO believe what Paul said to the disciples in Ephesus during the first century:
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
As I submit to God’s power and control in my life, the journey He has in mind is revealed, and I am gifted with a view and experience I could have never imagined.
So you can face each day with a pathetic resignation that all is set and you are powerless to affect change, OR you can (and I pray you will) enter this day and all days with a finger on the trigger of control and power that God has supplied, and ready to compete in the race He by His infinite grace has set out for you to complete; a journey of twists, turns, and triumph that you could have never created for yourself.