Earlier this year, Randolph Bean was sitting in his yellow Corvette at eleven o’clock at night outside a medical center in Orlando, Florida, waiting for his wife who was ending her shift. Two men jerked open his door and lugged him out at gunpoint to steal his car. But they confronted something that left them flummoxed—a third pedal in the floor. The car was a stick shift, not an automatic transmission. Waving the gun at Randolph, they demanded to know how the thing worked, but they couldn’t figure it out so they fled on foot, becoming the laughingstock of the newspapers the next day.

Some of us can drive a standard shift, but lots of motorists can’t. Most cars come with automatic transmissions, which have been around since General Motors introduced the “Hydra-Matic” in its 1940 Oldsmobile. Most drivers today like seeing the letters D, N, and RDrive (Forward), Neutral, and Reverse.

Drive (Forward)

Drive is the proper setting for those wanting to make progress. The Lord told Moses at the Red Sea: “Tell the children of Israel to go forward” (Exodus 14:15). Jesus told the man with the withered hand, “Step forward” (Mark 3:3). The apostle Paul said, “Reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal” (Philippians 3:13-14). Missionary William Carey once told a friend: “There are grave difficulties on every hand, and more are looming ahead. Therefore we must go forward.”1

Are you moving forward and making progress in your Christian life and work? Do you feel more spiritually confident now than you did a year ago? Would others think you are more joyful and peaceful than in the past? Is the fruit of the Spirit growing in you like grapes maturing on the vine?

Some of our most faithful Turning Point radio listeners are truck drivers, and some of them sit behind the wheels of big rigs with eighteen-speed transmissions. I want to be like them, geared up for progress, accelerating with confidence as I travel the Christian road. Rather than slowing down spiritually as we go through life, let’s keep shifting from one gear to the next, continually beholding the face of Christ and being transformed into His image “from glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18).


If you were honest, perhaps you’d admit you’re not making progress in your faith. You might be stuck in neutral, or as we sometimes say, in idle. Think of that word “idle.” It means that we aren’t active or moving. Remember our Lord’s words to the workers in the marketplace: “Why have you been standing here idle all day?” (Matthew 20:6)

A person slips out of the basic disciplines of Christianity as easily as a car slips gears. As a pastor, I’ve seen people whose church attendance is disrupted for a short period, but afterward they don’t reconnect. They idle. I’ve seen people relinquish their ministry of being an usher, a children’s worker, or a choir member. At first their reasons might have been valid, but soon they were stuck in neutral. Has that happened to you? Perhaps you need to tap the brake, grab the gearshift, and deliberately reengage the journey.


Of course, if you move the gearshift knob the wrong way, you’ll find yourself in reverse. Everyone occasionally goes in reverse, but only temporarily to reposition the vehicle. You don’t want to drive down the freeway in reverse!

The Book of Hebrews was written to warn of this danger. “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:12-13).

If your habits are pulling you away from the Lord and weakening your Christian life, hit the brakes now, stop yourself, and shift gears in life. Remember these appropriate words of the Shunammite woman in 2 Kings 4:24: “Drive, and go forward; do not slacken the pace.”

Perhaps that’s a motto you need right now, so I’ll say it again: Drive, and go forward. Do not slacken the pace. Let’s get in the right gear.

Check-Up Challenge: Is any area of your Christian life stalled or rolling backward? What can you do to get moving again and “gear up” for growth?

1Quoted by E. Michael and Sharon Rusten in The One Year Book of Christian History (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 2003), 143.