Wednesday, January 21, 2009

You Can’t Steer a Parked Truck

One of my guiding maxims has been, “you can’t steer a parked truck.”

The picture that comes to mind is one of me and my brother on Old 29. When Randy and I were growing up, our Dad (Tom) served as a volunteer firefighter. So, from time to time, we had the enormous privilege of hanging out at the fire station. Most of the equipment was off limits, of course, but we were occasionally allowed on Old 29… a restored, antique fire engine that was used for parades and community events. (There’s a picture posted of Engine 29 at

We could spend hours bouncing on the black leather seats and cranking on the large, wooden steering wheel as we raced to imaginary emergencies. In our minds we were Johnny Gage and Roy DeSoto aboard Squad 51; lives were at peril and relied on our swift arrival. It was great fun!

The cranking on the steering wheel had no real impact, but only aided our imaginations. No matter how hard we tugged, our efforts didn’t move the truck an inch. Furthermore, these childhood “driving” experiences caused me to wonder, “Just how strong will I have to become to drive a truck like this?” Try as I might, I couldn’t get the truck tires to swivel. Only later would I realize that in order to have any hope of turning the wheels, the truck need to first start moving.

I’ve translated this little maxim into a bias towards action. Planning is vitally important, but it takes movement to get things done. Although there is a certain amount of gratification of “bouncing on the seat” and imagining how the plans and resources at my disposal might accomplish a goal, the engine needs to be started and the wheels need to start rolling before we can actually begin to steer into any accomplishment.

Today I’m reminded that God can’t steer the parked truck of my life either. Sure, He speaks to me and molds me in times of still quietness. But in order for Him to accomplish much through me, I need to be moving. I’ve have especially found that I need to be moving in order for Him to accomplish the things He has planned for me to do that I don’t yet know anything about.

For example, I took a day-long road trip across our State last month with one good plan and goal in mind. Looking in my rearview mirror, it now appears that the trip accomplished at least three good things… none directly associated with my original plan (which I still think will be accomplished as well). I would have rather stayed in the office that day, and probably could have made some progress towards my original goal by making a few phone calls. But it appears that God needed the truck of my life to roll across the state so that He could steer me into opportunities that I was not yet aware.

I think that it is natural for us to, especially when in doubt, choose stasis; rather than risk failing with an incomplete plan, we sit still far too long. Let’s face it; our plans are always incomplete because we simply can’t account for every eventuality. So let’s adopt a bias toward action and remember that we, and even God, can’t steer a parked truck.