Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Trust God. Show Up. Do the Next Right Thing.

I have a four-year-old son, and this apparently means that Mater’s Tall Tales must be watched during screen time every day. (Mater is a lovable character from Pixar's movie Cars.)

Which means I have seen these episodes about 12 gerbillion times.

Which means I’ve had a lot of time to turn Mater’s Tall Tales into an allegory about faith.

Which, of course, I’ll share with you because I’m a stay at home mom and my brain is going to turn to mush if I don’t do important things like write up my theories of analysis for the women of the interwebs to read.

So here goes:

Mater isn’t known to be the sharpest knife in the drawer. He’s just a dumb ole hillbilly truck who does his best. But this is where the comedy comes from. We believe him to be uneducated, naive, have a low IQ... so our expectations of him doing anything spectacular are completely void. We don’t expect him to be able to do anything extraordinary. The comedy happens because Mater does things that surprise us. Mater’s Tall Tales are the stories of Mater doing the unexpected, the impossible, the unfathomable. He jumps Carburetor Canyon. He is a doctor, a fireman, a hero. He meets a UFO/Alien who teaches him how to levitate. He tows a car under the Pacific Ocean to Japan. He tells stories of doing some crazy stuff, including becoming a rock star.

In the “Heavy Metal Mater” episode, Mater and his buddies have a garage band. They sing the happy little tune, “Dad Gum.” After a practice, Mater declares that they “sound purty good” and should get a gig. So they get one. At the gig, a girl car asks if they have a record. So they head to the recording studio to make a record. During the recording process, a fly lands on the drums, so as the drummer is swatting the fly, he creates a much faster beat, and the rest of the song evolves into a heavy metal version of “Dad Gum.” A producer in the studio overhears their song, and they become rock stars.

Now we all know that the things we set out to do don’t happen that way. We all know that becoming great at something takes time and persistence and trying again. And we know that it takes faith, because faith is believing that God is who He says He is and will do what He said He’ll do.

So, if God tells us in some way to do something, “puts a dream in our hearts” as the Christianese goes, If God says, “Mater, you’re gonna be a rock star.” You’re gonna be a rockstar, and you’d better show up and be ignorant about it, because when your brain says, “This will never work. I don’t know how to do this.” God says, “I got this.”

Because, like Mater, all you have to do is show up. Take the next step. Then the next. And the next, and the next. 

Because that’s what faith really is. Trusting God enough to show up and do the next right thing. 

Now that doesn’t mean that showing up and doing the next thing will be easy. It won’t. It’s never easy. None of the stories of faith were of people who had it easy. Abraham’s journey was messy, and riddled with sin and mistakes. Noah’s was awful. Jonah got thrown into the ocean swallowed by “a huge fish” and then got puked up on the beach. And this is where Mater’s Tall Tales misleads us. Mater’s road is always easy. It just happens. In real life, chasing the dreams God gives us probably won’t be easy. In fact, following God’s will for our lives will probably be the most difficult thing we’ve ever done. 

Now, I don’t know about you, but most of the time, when it’s not working out the way I thought it would, I think God is causing the problem. I think God is making it intentionally difficult, but the reality is that I’m getting in the way. I’m rebelling. I’m overthinking. I’m living in fear, being lazy, or just telling God that He’s wrong. I’m the one who is making it difficult.

But I think God makes it simple. “Follow me,” He says. We did that when we were kids on the playground. Even simple-minded Mater can do that. Trust God. Show up. Do the next right thing. Repeat. That’s faith.

Emily Donehoo is the only female in a family of five. She is a former High School English Teacher and National Trainer for the College Board. These days, when she isn’t scrubbing toilets, administering timeouts, working at book fairs, attempting to tackle dinner, laundry, homework help, dishes, and a preschooler’s incessant questions, she writes authentically about the hard stuff that really matters, hoping to uncover the truth that God has for us whether it makes us cry from laughter, pain or both at the same time. Read more of her writing here

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