A few months ago we bought a new van. Not just any van, but a BIG van. Everything on this van is big. It is so big, there is a step to get into it, it seats 12 people, it is taller than some parking garages allow and it uses a lot of gas. The first time I went to fill the tank, I started to feel faint when the pump price went over $100. Did I mention that it uses a lot of gas? We bought this van because it was the best available option for us. We needed something that can pull our camper, fit us and friends when we go on all our homeschool field trips, and was not too expensive. So here we are with a van, that 2 years ago, I would have said we would never buy. A gas hog that is in no way ecologically sound. (a big concern of mine). It just shows me, I really never know what the future will hold. The van has a “Trip Computer”, that my husband thinks is way cool. I see it as a product of the devil. It shows how many miles traveled on any one trip, (it can store two at the same time), and how many total miles on the Van. I do actually like the “how many miles until empty” feature. For the first time in my life, I can gauge when I absolutely need to get gas (I have been known to run out of gas...Oops!!). BUT...The feature that has caused the most contemplation and angst for me is the “average miles per gallon” (MPG). I am sure you are thinking, what is the big deal about knowing the average miles per gallon that you are using? I am here to tell you that knowing this can be life changing. At least for me it was. When my husband drives the van, he gets about 16 miles per gallon. At any time he is driving he can tell you exactly how many miles per gallon he is getting, and he is proud of it. I think that life is just too strange when you are basing value on your current MPG. When I drive my MPG is about 11, so that could be clouding my view. While my husband was on a business trip, I was going to prove that I could drive better than him. When I picked him up at the airport I was going to make sure that my MPG was the best possible, way better than he ever got. The challenge was on, and it was a challenge that I had put on myself. This is a challenge that surprisingly caused some unwanted self-evaluation. With time and testing, I figured out that in order to get the best MPG, I had to change the way that I drove. Slow starts from a complete stop, no slamming on of brakes, speeding up to get through a yellow light is not helpful, and I needed to be a more “present” driver. Now, let me just say, I am not a bad driver, but I do tend to have a lead foot and a penchant for focusing on getting to the destination ASAP. Let's face it, as a mom, I spend a LOT of time in the van. Not a day goes by that I do not have to take someone somewhere. Driving is truly a large part of my life right now. As I was going through all of the trials of figuring out the best way to get the best MPG possible, I suddenly realized that this was really turning out to be a reflection of my life, and my relationship with my God. Seriously, it was a lesson I really did not want to learn. Here is the comparisons: I like to go from 0 to 40 in under 5 seconds, when the light turns, I am ready to get going. In life, I jump in and get the job done, from getting up in the morning and getting the family going to getting everything done before bed at night. I have little patience for those who, in my stilted perception, drag their feet or do not jump in and work or help. I tend to wait until the last minute to put my brakes on, always hoping that I won't have to brake at all. I just want to keep going and get to my destination. In life, I keep on going, not always stopping when I should. When I am enjoying a good meal, or snack, or when I am reading a good book, I just want to keep on going until it is all done. When I see a yellow light, I see it as a challenge to try to beat it. I can do this, I can win. Maybe even a little bit of, I am not going to let this yellow light tell me what to do! I have to admit that I am this way when I have tasks in my life. I am going to do it and get it done...my way. Last but not least, I needed to be more “present” as I was driving. I had to focus on the best way to drive to get the best MPG. To accomplish that I had to concentrate, really concentrate on my driving. I have been driving for almost 40 years (boy, it hurts to see that in writing!) Over time, I have allowed my driving to become automatic. I had a friend mention the other day, have you ever driven somewhere and when you got there not remembered driving there? The truthful answer is yes. Auto pilot kicks in when so much else needs attention. This is my daily life, no matter how much I plan and prepare, I tend to run on autopilot, doing what needs to be done. Some days I am putting out one fire after another and never really accomplishing anything. There are days that when I go to bed at night, I could not begin to tell you what I did all day. The lessons: Now we get to the part of why I feel the gauges on the van were a tool of the devil's. Basically the answer is because, through my personal competition, it made me take a good close look at myself. A look, that if you do it honestly, for most can be a little hard to do. What I learned about myself is that I need to take a slower start, put more thought into what I am doing. I need to take time and look at things, projects, and people from different perspectives and be more open and accepting of all of the views I see. I need to be more open to putting my brakes on. If I do not want to do something, or if it does not feel “right”, or I do not have the time available to do a good job, I need to stop and examine what I am doing, and feeling. I need to take the time necessary to PRAYERFULLY make better decisions, and stick with my decisions, when I am letting God lead. I need to yield the right of way more often. Let others, including my children lead the way,. And I need to let God really be the leader. It is the only way that all of us can learn and grow. More often than not, taking a step back will actually broaden my view, and giving it to God can show me a whole new horizon. Last and probably the most important, I need to follow God's words about being present, focusing solely on him, concentrate on making God the driver in my life. Throughout the Bible, God specifically tells us, he is the way, give all to him, he will take care of our needs and our lives. I try to do this, but I keep falling short, taking on burdens, focusing on me and my woes and not Him. It sounds so simple, but, for me, is so hard to do day in and day out. So, from my personal challenge, I have come to the conclusion that I really need to let God drive. I need to sit back and live fully the ride he has for me. I need to really follow His word and daily lift up to Him, my needs and concerns so that my MPG (Miles per God) will be more amazing than I could ever imagine! A-Men!