Traction. I drove home today and was almost stopped on Shenandoah Boulevard by a car that could not gain traction. It had been snowing for a while, and the streets were covered. As I drove up a hill, I realized the car in front of me had begun to slide and was not going to make it. While that was bad for the driver of that car, stopping on the uphill grade would have probably ended my forward momentum as well. I slipped into the other lane and managed to keep going. My car was much older and possibly a good bit heavier, so maybe my traction was better. I also thought I was fortunate to have bought new tires not too long ago, so my tread was better. Who knows the basis for my getting home, but traction is the thing to which I partly attribute my success.
Traction is not only needed on snow-covered streets. It is also needed in life. There are many people trying to make forward progress, but they seem to be marking time or even slipping backwards. Have you found that to be true in your life? I think we can all look back at times in our lives when our resolve seemed to be slipping or our commitments seemed to wane. If I lived up north somewhere and snow was a normal part of my life, I would probably have snow tires and even carry chains in my trunk that could go around my tires. What do you think could give you traction in life? I think there are a few key spiritual disciplines that can be like cleats on the bottom of the shoes of an athlete or deep tread on the tires of your vehicle.
One important, momentum-creating discipline is reading and studying the Bible. One of our greatest needs is to know God, and reading the Bible is foundational to getting to know your Creator. The Bible is first and foremost a revelation of God to humanity. God wants to be known, and He has given us the Bible as a means to come to know Him and experience Him. Consider John 14:23 “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” Obviously keeping God’s word requires reading God’s word. As we read and keep God’s word, we realize God’s presence in our lives. Time in the Scripture can be multiplied through memorization and mediation. Scripture memory should be a part of every Christian’s life, regardless of his or her age. God can speak to us at inopportune times when we have hidden His word in our hearts. Meditating on Scripture simply means intentionally thinking about it throughout our day. We could have a verse for the day that we read in the mornings and think about throughout our day. It may require that you write the verse down or download it into your phone. A friend recently showed me a smartphone app that provides a Bible verse for each day.
Prayer is another traction producing discipline in our spiritual life. Through prayer, we come to know God as we commune with Him. Through prayer we share our concerns with God and open up our minds to the voice of God. God commands us to pray about everything, and God will set up a guard over your hearts and minds. Consider the words of Philippians 4:6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Another key to maintaining strong footing in life is good Christian fellowship. I know that often the word “fellowship” makes us think of coffee and donuts, but it is actually so much more. Fellowship means sharing. As we share our lives with one another, we develop deep friendships whereby we receive support and encouragement. It is through fellowship that we are able to obey the command of Galatians 6:2: “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” God admonishes us to spend time together in verses like Hebrews 10:24-25: “And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” As the return of Christ draws ever nearer, we need fellowship so as to encourage one another in times of distress and challenge one another toward faithfulness.
One final key to traction is worship. Through personal worship and corporate worship, we gain a proper perspective of God and His glory. Through worship we declare God’s sufficiency and our dependence. Through worship, we encounter God in life-altering ways as we acknowledge His character and pronounce His worth. Worship is not about you; it’s about God. When we focus our mind’s attention and our heart’s affection upon the person and character of God, we gain a better understanding of our sin and a greater appreciation for God’s grace. As we live a life of worship, we find that God fills our minds with the knowledge of His will. Consider the words of Romans 12:1-2: “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Without traction, you’ll end up in the ditch. The ditch may be on the side of the road or it may be on the side of life. With traction, we’ll know God and we’ll bear much fruit through our lives for His eternal glory. What will you do in your life, starting today, in order to find the kind of traction that would please your heavenly Father?