Progressing in Reverse

On a recent vacation, my husband and I visited a number of scenic landscapes including the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. One scenic winding road at Zion takes you into a dead-end canyon and some gorgeous views.

Coming around a curve, we came across a van in our lane that was facing us. Initial shock turned to surprise when we realized we were not about to have a head-on collision. The van was slowly driving backwards and going the same direction we were.

After a few minutes, we concluded this was no stunt. They were apparently having engine or transmission issues. Waving us around, they pulled into a parking area at the side of the road designed to allow people to stop and take pictures.

We continued into the canyon and admired God’s handiwork as we walked about and explored short hiking trails. After a brief time,  we headed back out of the canyon and encountered the same van just ahead of us…still driving backwards…and still facing us.

We were surprised to see them since the road doesn’t have very many straight sections and it took all three of the passengers to use mirrors and backward viewing to navigate the entire road in reverse. Most would have given up the effort and simply called for a tow. These young people continued to pursue their goal, even if the way to get there became more difficult than they expected.

Many dreams and plans are cast aside when the going gets tough or unexpected situations arise. What the driver and passengers of this vehicle demonstrated was a resolve not often experienced. These are the things I observed…and lessons we can learn from them:

  1. TEAMWORK  It takes a group effort to navigate when you get turned around. Often, the driver is the only one watching the road while the others just enjoy the ride. This time, however, not only the driver, but the two other passengers were helping to keep the van within the lane and take the turns safely. 
  2. TOOLS  The side and rear view mirrors were always there, but became more necessary as they drove the road. Now, they were using them like never before. Additionally, every eye was watching and guiding the effort of the driver.
  3. TIME No longer able to rush along, they were forced to slow down to be safe…for themselves and others. At times, we had to drive slowly until we could pass, and were able to notice deer and wild turkeys nearly hidden among the trees that we may have missed if we had gone the speed limit.
  4. THOUGHTFULNESS They stopped when possible and necessary to allow traffic to go around. Not only did this assist in safe driving, but kept traffic moving along and avoided bottlenecks.
  5. TENACITY They continued to pursue their goal, even if it was going to take longer to get there. For whatever reason, they delayed fixing their vehicle to pursue viewing the canyon. Perhaps this was their only day and the van could get fixed tomorrow.

In applying this to my life, I realized many circumstances can be derailed by sudden crisis or engine failure.  Rather than quit, we can make the decision to stay the course.

  1. I cannot get everything done by myself. Team effort lightens the load and shares the tasks. Usually the leader is the one driving, but sometimes, letting the other team members with better sight of the road guide and encourage will lead to more success than if I insist on doing it alone.
  2. Not just other people, but different skill sets (mine or other’s) may be needed to complete a project or goal. Each circumstance must be evaluated to determine which tools or individuals are best suited for the job. It may be those that are not often used that will be the most valuable when the need arises.
  3. My timetable is likely to get upset. One thing about slowing down is that smaller details will be noticed and appreciated.  And sometimes, it may be the only way for God to slow us down at all. (Do I hear an “amen.”)
  4. I may have to get out of the way and let others get ahead of me. Life is not a race to get things done or come in first. It is hard to see others reaching the goal ahead of you, but at times, we need to wave them on and encourage their efforts.
  5. Finally, just keep going and don’t give up. While the process may be slow and the view seems backward, even short distances in the right direction is progress.

In the meantime, “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”   Phil. 3:14 (ESV)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s