“I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7
I’m not sure who came up with the idea of driving around in circles on a small track in a tiny machine; nevertheless, riding go-karts is a popular pastime in America. Once when I took my son and nephew to a go-kart track, I was whizzing around—trying desperately to catch up with those two lightweight guys—and realized firsthand the futility of going in circles and cutting off everyone who got in my way.
A lot like life, I thought.
Then I found myself reflecting on a similar, more brutal activity: bumper cars. Have you ever noticed that they are driven by two kinds of people? The aggressive ones bump and bang everyone within range. They don’t feel successful unless they have plowed as many people into the sideboards as time will allow. The other person shrinks from the conflict, seeking to avoid the drivers who have that killer look in their eyes.
Unfortunately, a lot of us tend to live in aimless, reckless ways like the go-kart and bumper car drivers of this world. Some of us seem content simply to follow a track going nowhere, hoping to finish first among others who are also frantically circling, going nowhere with their lives.
Then there are those who seem to think there is some spiritual merit to bumping and banging fellow followers of Jesus, while others go through life with passive avoidance, simply trying to stay out of everybody’s way. They don’t go anywhere or do anything significant; success for them is measured by just staying out of trouble.
If you recognized yourself in this list, I’m here to tell you that none of those tactics will lead to the progressive, productive life that Jesus called us to live. The essence of authentic Christianity is the pursuit of a goal. As Paul put it: “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). Together, arm in arm, heart to heart, we are called to go somewhere for God.
As followers of Jesus, we have many wonderful and productive places to go—like rearing godly families, expressing sacrificial love in our relationships in the midst of a “me first” culture, and taking the healing power of Christ to the broken and oppressed.
It’s when we take our eyes off the God-given goal and forget our destination that we settle back into the go-kart mentality, circling around the same track we’ve been on for years, or find ourselves hanging out in the bumper car arena looking for someone to attack or avoid.
It’s time to get out of the amusement park and back on God’s highway. And once on the highway, our goal is to be wreck-less drivers, following the rules of the road and avoiding conflict with other cars. It’s time to get behind the wheel and get serious about going where God wants to take us—a place of usefulness and significant service for Him. Then, like Paul, we can say with confidence, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
- What are the pitfalls of the “go-kart mentality”? Have there been times in your life that seemed like a go-kart ride?
- In the “bumper car arena,” do you tend to be a passive or an aggressive driver in terms of relating to fellow drivers? How do you feel when others bump or avoid you? Make up your mind to step out of that arena to a more productive pursuit—following Jesus!
- What is your destination in life? How does it align with what Jesus instructed His followers to do in Matthew 28:18-20?