Is the name Carrie Underwood real or is that her stage name? I only ask because it sounds so perfectly country it almost seems fake. Like former Texas quarterback Colt McCoy. If that’s not a fake name then that kid had two options growing up:
1. Be the quarterback of Texas.
2. Rob stagecoaches.
I think about names sometimes. Justin Timberlake’s name seems kind of fake too. It’s almost too awesome, like if my name was “Jonathan Mountainstream.” Please call me that from here on out. The real reason I think about Carrie Underwood sometimes though isn’t her name, it’s her song, “Jesus take the wheel.”
The benefit of a country song is that, much like a Steven Seagal movie, you can figure out the entire thing from the title. A girl is out of control in her life and needs Jesus to take the wheel. I get that, and often I do that. I surrender my life or something I am chasing to Jesus. I “Underwood” the whole situation and give Jesus the wheel.
But if I’m honest, most of the times I give him the wheel, but I don’t give him the gas pedal.
His hands might be firmly placed on the steering wheel, but I’m over in the passenger seat stretching my left leg and trying to press down on the gas pedal. Dang, Jesus drives slow sometimes! And it’s up to me to press his be-sandaled foot down hard on the gas so we can get this car that represents my life in the fast lane.
I feel that right now. Apparently, you don’t get super rich writing Christian books. If I had a dollar from everyone who asked, “Are you going to quit your job,” I’d be rich, but otherwise, this dream has not gone 0-60 in 3.2 seconds. (That I’m complaining about getting a book deal after only 12 years writing professionally shows how impatient I am.)
Have you ever felt that way? That maybe God is not aware that the reason your friends appear to be lapping you in life is that he’s driving very, very slowly? Has there ever been something that made you feel wildly alive but you’re stuck sitting in a cubicle that is so close to the break room that at the end of the day you smell like whatever people heated up? Have you ever wanted to punch the guy who burned the popcorn in the face and take the gas pedal back? (Seriously, we’ve been microwaving popcorn since 1983, how are people still burning it?)
It’s possible you’re not impatient like me, having prayed to receive patience, which is the most dangerous thing you can ask for. But if you are, if you’ve ever felt that way, there’s hope for us all. The Israelites, the same people who brought you the Gift of the Desert Road, are about to give you something else.
In Exodus 23, God addresses a people group who will one day inherit land. He says in verse 27
“… I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. And I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites from before you.”
Hooray! This is how we like visions or plans or dreams to proceed. Fast. God is making progress. Our wildest hopes are unfolding quickly with a wild sense of momentum and a squadron of hornets riding shotgun.
You got the job promotion.
You met the guy or girl who might be the one.
You were accepted into that school.
Finally, things are moving at an acceptable speed, until God continues his message in 29:
“I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild beasts multiply against you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and possess the land.”
Awwww, those are some harsh words. He’s not going to do it in one year. It’s going to be “little by little.” We have to increase first and possess the land. For a culture that demands instant access to everything and WiFi in our Dairy Queens, this is a tough pill to swallow. But in our impatience, we run the risk of missing something important in those verses.
Why won’t God give us everything in a year? Why does he love the “little by little” approach? Because he knows that if that happened, the land would become desolate and wild beasts would multiply against you. I don’t know what your beasts are, but it’s painfully simple to see them in other people.
Amy Winehouse blows up and then falls apart under the weight of a global spotlight and drugs.
A 20 year old NFL player gets a DUI the week after he gets millions more than he’s ever seen in his life before.
A pastor starts to believe the hype and begins caring about telling his story than God’s.
Good things given too quickly tend to turn into poison if we’re not careful.
Which is why I love what God tells the Israelites. He loves them too much to allow wild beasts to multiply against them. He loves them too much for the land to become desolate around them. He loves them too much to give them the land overnight.
Today, I’m going to give God the steering wheel and the gas pedal. Today I’m not going to lean over the seat and try to force the car faster. And I’m probably going to roll the window down and make wave motions with my arm because that just seems like the kind of thing Jonathan Mountainstream would do.