According to howstuffworks.com, traction control helps limit tire slip in acceleration on slippery surfaces. In the past, drivers had to feather the gas pedal to prevent the drive wheels from spinning wildly on slippery pavement. Most of today’s vehicles employ electronic controls to limit power delivery for the driver, eliminating wheel slip and helping the driver accelerate under control. This handy feature assures the much appreciated and greatly needed traction to, as my father-in-law used to say, “keep it between the ditches!”
So, with the past few weeks providing many a driver with a challenge or two on the roadway, the subject of traction came to my mind. A passage from the book of Hebrews slides into focus here. “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?”
The American Cancer Society has saved thousands of lives by educating the public about “7 warning signals of cancer.” Untold thousands are alive today because they were sensitive to (heeded) these warning signals. Along with physical warning signs there are as well spiritual danger signals. Warnings are given for a reason and when observed and acted upon in this case, they save real lives. So, to keep our spiritual traction let us observe a few warnings we see in these verses.
For example: an unwillingness to be honest about the condition of one’s soul. There’s a gradual process of drifting the writer mentions here. “Lest at any time we should let them slip.” The life that knows they need to turn to God and pushes that inclination away experiences a heart that becomes hard, leading to unbelief and eventually to a life that has turned away from the living God. Paul Harvey tells how an Eskimo kills a wolf by coating his knife blade with animal blood and allowing it to freeze. He then adds another layer, then another, and another until blade is completely concealed by frozen blood. He then fixes his knife in the ground with the blade sticking up. The wolf’s keen sense of smell attracts him to the knife and he begins to lick. The wolf doesn’t notice the blade is exposed and consequently doesn’t realize he’s being satisfied by his own warm blood… until it is too late! He dies without realizing he’s dying. An honorable and honest relationship with God gives us the necessary traction to be spiritually alive and vibrant.
Another warning sign would be a loss of appetite for the word of God. The writer in scripture mentions, “things which we have heard” and “the word spoken by angels” pointing us to the importance of God’s word. The word of God still has the ability to guide and direct us, to encourage and correct us and most importantly lead us into a real relationship with the Lord.
The year was 1799 and the citizens of Feldkirch, Austria, didn’t know what to do. Napoleon’s massive army was preparing to attack. Soldiers had been spotted on the heights above the little town, which was situated on the Austrian border. A council of citizens was hastily summoned to decide whether they should try to defend themselves or display the white flag of surrender.
It happened to be Easter Sunday, and the people had gathered in the local church. The pastor rose and said, “Friends, we have been counting on our own strength, and apparently, that has failed. As this is the day of our Lord’s resurrection, let us just ring the bells, have our services as usual, and leave the matter in His hands. We know only our weakness, and not the power of God to defend us.” The council accepted his plan and the church bells rang. The enemy, hearing the sudden peal, concluded that the Austrian army had arrived during the night to defend the town. Before the service ended, the enemy broke camp and left.
With dangers each of us face in life, with spiritual opposition that is rampant. In a culture, which seems to make a habit of hiding its face from the God, who with his mighty arm raised up and strengthened and blessed our nation from its infancy. We dare not neglect our praise to the God who has made us. We can ill afford to take one step out of bed in the morning without our Lord being the focus of our day. If there was ever a moment in history when the people of God need adequate spiritual traction it is this very day. To accomplish what God desires to do in us and through each of us, His creation. For all that is possible through the churches and ministries he has raised up for this very moment in time we need good spiritual traction. How’s your spiritual traction?
Tim Throckmorton is the former executive pastor for Plymouth Heights Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace, Ohio, and Portsmouth First Church of the Nazarene. He is currently senior pastor at Crossroads Church in Circleville, Ohio.