Sometimes I make little observations not worthy of a full-blown blog post, but noteworthy nonetheless. “Week back strong forward” looks back at my week to capture thoughts and observations that I believe make me stronger as I move forward.
Don’t wait for perfection
I arrived at the pool at 5:15 Wednesday morning to find one lane empty.
“It’s mine, all mine!” I thought greedily, as I claimed it for myself.
But as the water walkers treaded the lane right beside me, I noticed that the lane rope dividing us was not tight enough. Rather than a straight line from wall to wall, the floating rope had meandered like a lazy snake into my lane, encroaching on my space.
I thought about going to the front desk to request someone tighten the rope but remembered I was wearing just a swimsuit. Pride and the knowledge that the Aqua Zumba class at 6 would require the lane rope be completely moved convinced me to just deal with it “as is” and swim.
As I swam, I noticed that the force of my body moving the water pushed the serpentine lane rope into place. My movement made the lane rope straight.
While a simple law of physics (and please don’t ask me which one) explains what made the lane straight, it seemed to me a life lesson:
Don’t wait for everything to align perfectly, move forward. Do what you know to do. Your action might make the difference.
That’s all. I had fleeting thoughts of “He will make your paths straight” (Prov. 3:6) and “Just keep swimming” (Dory in Finding Nemo), but, oddly, that swim made me think of a foot lamp, mentioned in Psalm 119:105. The Scripture says:
“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.”
Historically, a foot lamp was a little oil lamp that emitted just enough flame to illuminate the next step. It wasn’t a powerful floodlight making the night as bright as day. It was enough light to guide the next step.
And though such a foot lamp would have been extinguished in a pool of water, the result of me moving water — and the lane rope — seemed equivalent to that little light.
That day in the pool, I took the next step. I swam. Swimming moved the obstacle and opened the lane for me.
Act. It might make the difference.
I drive an older car. It has six cylinders and can accelerate three times as fast as a Prius (anecdotal evidence that may have been collected at a traffic light near me) or a Hyundai Accent (the last type of car I rented for a business trip, which made me appreciate six whole cylinders of power).
But my car is older, and like my aging body, things fall apart. The horn doesn’t work, the back doors only lock or unlock electronically on rare occasions, my PRNDL doesn’t show, my horn doesn’t work, and I recently spent more than $300 to get my two electric front windows to work again.
Just over a week ago, my car started stumbling when I accelerated. I reported this to my mechanic.
He researched potential issues — fuel filter, fuel pump, some thingamajig too-expensive to fix — and then (eeny, meeny, miny, moe…) landed on “spark plug coil” as the culprit. (I didn’t say he was a professional mechanic.) He ordered a part, slapped it into place, and, like that, my car was better — and worse.
Better in that I could accelerate with less hesitancy. Worse in that idling made the engine falter so much I had to idle with one foot on the brake and the other on the gas pedal. (It made my work commute, littered with long traffic lights, rather stressful.)
I reported it to my shade-tree mechanic.
“I think it’s the spark plug wire,” he told me. “I noticed that it had deteriorated when I replaced the coil.”
The spark plug is what provides the energy for a car engine to work. My six-cylinder car needs six spark plugs, one per cylinder. When I start my engine, my car injects a tiny bit of fuel into each cylinder while simultaneously igniting the spark plugs. A little explosion in each cylinder, and, like magic, my car works.
Unless something that attaches to the spark plug isn’t working properly.
I can have the freshest spark plugs in the world, but if my connections are poor, my car doesn’t run well.
I can drive without a horn. I can survive the tediousness of manually unlocking the back doors to my car and still get to work and back. I can put my car into P, R or D without seeing PRNDL on my dashboard. I could even drive my car when my windows wouldn’t go up or down.
But I can’t drive my car with a faulty spark plug wire. It’s just one little connecting part, but it makes a huge difference.
It, too, seemed a life lesson:
Stay connected to the source of power.
I suppose you could apply this to connecting to people with power — or even the old adage, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” But I thought of my walk with God. How am I staying connected to my power source?
Jesus said this:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Branches are attached to the vine; abiding there allows them to bear fruit. I don’t know about you, but I find abiding in Jesus hard. Instead of abiding, I take things into my own hands. I worry. I fear. I stress. Or I simply get distracted by the cares of this world and forget to connect. I am like that faulty spark plug wire, failing to let his power flow through me to run the engine of my life.
I prefer my car when it’s running on all cylinders; I’d prefer my life running that way too.
(P.S. I ended up taking my car to a professional to get it fixed. Watch for the blur of my Buick as I pass.)