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Can’t Get Up the Hill

The morning was dark and wet from a slow rain that fell all during the night. It was cool, but not cold. The day presented itself with an agenda that would choke a mule and so time was of the essence.

I crawled out of the bed a little before 5:00 AM, dressed and went through all my morning rituals. First, go downstairs and turn on the weather channel. They said it would rain, but then, I already knew that from the water that was dripping off the roof of the house. After getting awake enough to decide which way to walk to get to the front door, I made my way toward the rabbit barn. Since it was raining, I decided it best to drive down to the barn in my little pickup.

As always, the rabbits were glad to see me. Not because the love me so much, but because they knew it was time to eat. Carefully I inspected each hutch, took care of some future rabbit responsibilities and then fed the whole lot.

By this time it was daylight and the rain had died down to a slow misty drizzle. I wiped the mud from my feet and stepped inside the pickup and headed toward the house. I got about three feet when the little pickup grounded. Now, mind you, I wasn’t stuck as in bogged down and mud up to the axles, I was just grounded. That little truck is so lite that it can’t get enough traction to make it up a wet dirt hill. Back and forth I rocked the vehicle trying in desperation to make it back to the house. Occasionally I would gain a foot or two, but it was clear that it just wasn’t going up that hill.

What was I to do? I needed the truck to get to work and I needed to get there soon. So, it came to me what I should do. I could get the tractor and tie a chain and drag it out, but that would be overkill. How do you get up a hill when you can’t get traction? The answer is not to murder the pickup, it is to simply get some traction.

Quietly and quickly I got back out of the truck and headed for the house. As I entered the front door both of my boys were there scampering around getting ready for work and school. I asked them to come with me for a couple of minutes and stand on the back bumper of the truck while I drove it up the hill. Like ducks in a row, we quickly moved toward the barn and each person took their spot. I cranked the truck, put it in gear and headed up the hill. It is amazing what a little help will do when you’re grounded. In a moment or two the problem was solved. I was up the hill, back to the house and rearing and ready to go to work. The boys dismounted, continued with their process and everything was fine. They didn’t complain or gripe at me about driving there in the first place. They just got on and got it out.

Sometimes a congregation of the Body of Christ gets a little grounded. You sit toward the bottom of a slope and try to inch your way upwards, making bits of progress which seems quickly lost by an attempt to make another run at it. And, bless their hearts, there are always those who stand and watch as you try desperately to work your way back up the hill chiding and complaining about how you got stuck in the first place. “If you hadn’t brought that thing down the hill in the rain you wouldn’t be in the fix you’re in.” Others say, “If I had been driving, I would have never gone down that hill in the first place.” Then you have people who will go around to all the other member of the congregation and talk about the insanity of those who would do such a thing. Instead of helping, they actually make the ruts a little deeper.

What’s a church to do when it finds itself grounded? Should we talk it to death or should we all jump on the back bumper and give her a little traction?

My boys could have spent all the time they had left that morning telling me what an idiot I was for driving down there in the first place, but they didn’t. The could have made a bee line upstairs, woke their momma up and had a good laugh about dad grounding his little truck, but they didn’t. They could have complained because they had stuff they needed to do in preparation for their very important day, but they didn’t. Instead, they just got on the bumper of the truck. Nobody was angry. Nobody was made to look like a fool. The truck was stuck and we worked together and got it out.

If it ever becomes obvious to you that the congregation can’t get up the hill, instead of talking so much about it, just jump on the bumper, give her a little traction, and who knows, in a few moments you might just see that the problem is solved.

By the way, next time, I’m walking!