I have never been very athletic. I squeeze my eyes shut if anyone throws anything at me, including a softball or a basketball. And running? Well, I have avoided that heart-pounding, sweat-inducing exercise all of my life. A brisk walk suits me just fine, and I've even been known to power-walk the aisles at the local discount store. (It helps me avoid those all too important to the store's bottom line impulse-buys.)
Despite my aversion to all things athletic, for far too many of my 55+ years, I have found myself running interference.
I developed an "if-then" mindset early in life, in my vain attempt to exercise some sort of control over an out-of-control adolescence.
I remember watching the plate glass window in the house across the street from my last childhood home in Arvada, Colorado, back when you could still identify automobiles by their headlight configurations. Sitting at the kitchen table, waiting to spread the alarm that Mom and Dad were mere moments away, I would watch for the telltale headlights to appear.
If they didn't appear within a reasonable amount of time, my imagination, complete with "if-then" scenarios, would kick in and by the time I called out, with utter relief, "Mom and Dad are coming!" I could have an entire double funeral planned out. (It must be noted that when it was time to plan my mother's funeral, I completely blew it. None of that early pre-planning helped in the least.)
That's the problem with running interference, whether in my imagination or in real time. But that didn't stop me from trying.
When Danny and I lived on Oxford Street, in Englewood, we were worried about our friend, Roy, and his enthusiastic consumption of alcohol. Ever ready to help, I called Alcoholics Anonymous to find out how to "cure" him. The very helpful lady who answered the phone told me as gently as she could that I couldn't help him. He would have to "hit bottom" and then seek help for himself. I later learned that is one of the main tenets of the program. At the time, I was appalled that they weren't willing to do anything to help. Although we've lost touch with Roy over the years, the last we heard, he was still looking for the bottom through the bottom of a bottle.
I'm not a very quick study.
Over the ensuing years, as difficulties would arise, whether of addictions, financial straits, lost homework or failing grades, I did my level best to run interference for my family, creating, as it were "false bottoms," so they wouldn't have to fall all the way down.
I wasn't doing them any favors. It turns out that not only is experience an excellent teacher; at times, it is the only teacher. By circumventing the outcome, I was circumventing the teacher, leaving those I loved more vulnerable when the next crisis would inevitably come up.
Jamie Slocum, an award-winning Christian singer and songwriter, offered a solution in his song "Hands off the Wheel" on his "Grace Changes Everything" cd released in 1999.
The chorus includes with the line, "And I used to drive. But I took my hands off the wheel."
Taking the lesson to heart, whenever I would find myself plotting an "if-then" play, I would pantomime holding a steering wheel -- then open my hands, drawing them back, releasing the imaginary wheel. (Note: Unless your speed is slow, your car perfectly aligned, and the road ahead straight as far as the eye can see, don't try this while actually driving.)
The results have been nothing short of amazing. Taking my hand off the wheel has allowed God to be God, so that when the one I longed to save hit bottom, in whatever life crisis was before them, God was waiting there, strong to rescue, faithful to save, his arm never too short to reach them, no matter how far they had fallen.
And because God is faithful, and ever will be, whenever the temptation to run another if-then interference call comes, I still "let go and let God."
"The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)
I don't have all the answers, but I know the One who does. Let's walk together for awhile and discover Him; together.