When the chain goes taught, push on the gas pedal.

I was somewhere around 4 or 5. I do not recall who all were there; but I know my uncle, my cousin, and I were there. There were likely others, perhaps as many as four more (two brothers and two more cousins). We were leaving the farm house where my uncle lived. We were in his station wagon and headed down a gravel road. Almost immediately after leaving the house, he drove off the side of the road, and the car was stuck in the ditch. Try as he might, he could not get out. He recited several colorful words and walked back to the house. It was not long before he returned with a farm truck. He connected the two vehicles with a chain. He directed my cousin to sit behind the wheel, to put the car in gear, and step on the accelerator when the chain was tight.

I could see from the back seat that she had stepped on the brake. I “knew” it was the brake and said nothing (my shyness and inhibition). The car would not budge. My uncle came back to the car spewing additional colorful words. “Did you push the gas like I told you?” My cousin responded in the affirmative, though I “knew” she had been pressing the brake. My uncle gave the same instructions and back to the truck to try again while continuing to spew profanities. The same outcome: the car did not budge. Rather, the brace on the back of the farm truck broke. My uncle was livid. More profanity. My vocabulary for unapproved words expanded that day.

My uncle removed the chain, drove the truck back to the barn and came back with a tractor. The chain was attached. The same instructions were given and my cousin, again, pushed on the brake. This time, however, the car came out the ditch. It was dragged with the brakes applied. I can almost hear the tires skidding through the gravel.

The chain was unattached, the tractor returned, my uncle back to the car, and we were on our way. My uncle was puzzled as to how the car was so stuck it could not be pulled out of the ditch more easily. I “knew”, but never said a word. I assume my cousin truly believed she was pushing on the gas pedal. Regardless, we were on our way.

I have thought of that event on several occasions through the years. It came to mind yesterday morning while listening to a sermon. I wonder how often I have pushed on the brake pedal vs. the accelerator. Often, or so I suspect. Feelings of inferiority, unhealthy comparison to others, a sense of worthlessness. Where did those conclusions come from? Certainly not from God. I still am cautious. I still know the difference between the accelerator and brake pedal. But if I am not careful, I apply the brake vs. the accelerator.