Turning in This Rickety Chariot
Nov 26, 2017 05:20AM
● By Bonnie Lyn Smith
I have to daily remind myself that the chariots and horses in our lives fail.
We need to expect that.
I need to stop making them idols on my personal shelf.
So many chariots in my life have trudged forth under heavy burdens and expectations. Find out why they failed me.
This verse has gone through my head over and over again all week. I couldn’t completely understand if God was trying to tell me something, but I would speak it when I heard it in my head. It kept coming back to me. I found it a comfort in the middle of so many things, and today, I found it a source of hope and strength as I waited for news of whether or not my father’s cancer had been completely removed, or if it had launched a stealth mission to land somewhere else.
Psalm 20:7, ESV
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
I also considered it an excellent reminder as news came in that we are not finished pursuing specialists for one of our children, that what we thought was okay is really not fully okay, and we take yet another big step toward wellness and wholeness.
And as I wrap up publication of Not Just on Sundays, with all of the unforeseen delays, obstacles, and new rabbit holes to go down—no matter the margin I left myself—trusting in the name of the Lord our God sounded pretty good to me. Because trusting in anything manmade or even human doesn’t really get us anywhere.
Not when the stakes are big.
What do you trust in? Have you asked yourself that lately?
I thought I trusted in Jesus, but somedays I realize I’m trying to ride that chariot again. And you know what? It has wooden wheels. It doesn’t stand up against the fires that burn in life. A chariot is fine for running short distances, but it sure doesn’t get me safely through a long, uphill battle. Have you also found that to be true?
My husband and I recently had a conversation about how independent we each are and how we each project to others a strength that isn’t actually always there—but it somehow conveys that it is. This came up because we were talking about how we’ve never lived near family or had grandparents local enough to babysit or give us a break. We have lived as far away as the Marshall Islands, and we’ve always had to go it alone—just the two of us—since Month 4 of marriage. That’s two decades of “it’s up to only us.”
Our only “village” at times was our church in each location and our community (at one point, our graduate school community and at other times, our military community).
With him traveling often for his work, I frequently shoulder running the house and family, and I’m completely unqualified most days, so I regularly cry out to God. It’s not something we set out to do—be away from family—but it has definitely limited our ability to take the marriage on vacation from the kids. There is no rescue when we need to flee. We just don’t flee. When hard things hit, we get through them: graduate housing (and funds) running out, an infant in the NICU, depression, as some examples. We also draw deeper into friendships because there’s something about proximity that helps us feel less alone, more supported.
But we fail each other. We can’t carry everything. Between us there aren’t enough resources, intellect, strength, or answers to go further than a chariot can take us. We trust each other, but we can’t trust in each other.
And isn’t this true of any relationship, really? A beloved sibling, a dear friend, an inspiring mentor?
I had to ask myself lately:
“Bonnie, are you trusting in Bonnie? In another person? In a circumstance? Are you taking a chariot ride?”
And I was. I was riding around and around on wooden wheels connected to a wearied horse.
Sometimes it’s not until we fall completely over, exhausted, depleted, and withered, that we realize this whole time we could have stopped spinning wheels like Samson, my Shih Tzu, and saved ourselves a lot of emotional and physical energy by going straight to God. I have to place my trust there. When I don’t, my chariot gets rickety, falls over, pops iron nails, and busts a rail or two. And so much repair is needed when I could have skipped that whole routine and just given something to Him in prayer, laid it at His feet, snuggled into His promises.
And you know what else going directly to Him does?
It relieves others of our unfair expectations on what they can(‘t) humanly do.
It preserves relationships.
It teaches us so much about how destructive self-reliance can be.
God answers—sometimes quickly and sometimes not—but we have to get out of the mindset of a drive-through God. It’s about relationship, not dispensing answers at us like a slot machine.
When we stop taking that long, bumpy ride on the chariot going nowhere, we will see how incredibly blessed we are to have a God Who knows our name, hears our prayers, and wants to delight us with a response.
The learning curve can be rough for me at times, but when I remember to live this way—willing to be patient and not take my own control—you know what happens?
Peace reigns, and I finally get somewhere much further in my prayers walking alongside Jesus, barefoot on the road, than I do trying to fast-track the journey in a rusty, splintered chariot.
How about you?
Do you feel like there are some chariots in your life that you can leave at the side of the road and just grab the hand of Jesus for a nice, long walk?
I promise the adventure will be life-changing and completely awesome. You’ll eventually forget all about your chariot because you will have traded it in for something so much better—something life-giving.
Tell Him you want to trust Him, and go for that walk. See what happens.
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
She is the author of Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day and the founder and editor-in-chief of Ground Truth Press, a book publishing company.