As soon as I was old enough to realize there were mobile machines out there my size, I was on them. My first hot rod was a bright red tricycle. I took off down the sidewalk on that thing like there was no tomorrow. I learned about the rush of going fast at an early age and I still can’t keep my pedal from the metal. I’m working on it, but I’ve got some hefty speeding tickets to prove it! I just like going fast and if I had another career choice, I’d be a race car driver so I could get away with breaking the speed limit. One day my three wheeler went missing and as my mom and I walked down the block, we soon discovered one of the neighborhood kids had ridden off with it and we found it parked in their driveway. I may have been a speed freak at an early age, but the little girl who took my trike was a thief at the age of two! I wonder if she is in jail now for grand theft auto?
I got my trike back but it wasn’t long before I outgrew it and knew I needed some more horsepower. So I graduated to the “Big Wheel”. The Big Wheel was a big deal when you were a kid. You had to have one or you were just a loser. And since I liked going faster and the red trike was already lame, I soon had myself revving up the Big Wheel. I thought I was so cool. I could feel the thrill as I raced that thing down the sidewalk and often had races with the other neighborhood kids. You see? I should have been a race car driver! Sonia McQueen is what I should have been called! But before long, the Big Wheel became obsolete and just wasn’t fast enough when the next big deal came along. And I had to have that big deal. I began to notice some of the older boys had something better than my stupid Big Wheel, all prissy and lame looking. I didn’t want a retarded little girl’s bike all disgusting pink and purple or Big Wheel anymore. I wanted something more badass with more power, speed and a nice flashy design because that’s just the way I roll. I’m sure if they made Harleys for kids I would have been on one. But I soon realized I needed this new machine to get me where I was going (which was pretty much nowhere – a big trip around the block.) I needed to ride “The Green Machine!” I realize I may be carbon dating myself by that admission. Oh well, get over it, people age.
I saw those cool commercials and knew this was my new race car. Why did the boys get all the cool stuff like Stretch Armstrong and The Green Machine? The Green Machine had stick shift steering which controlled the back wheels and allowed you to do all kinds of cool maneuvers & spins. And it was bright green with cool stickers instead of those retarded sparkly streamers. They marketed that Green Machine to boys, but as always, I never let that stop me. I was never one to be pigeonholed or put in a stereotypical box and I’m still not to this day. Don’t get me wrong, I did wear dresses from time to time and had a few dolls, but I was not into playing house as much as I was climbing the trees in our yard, camping out in my tent, and doing huge productions where the whole neighborhood would show up to see my show. I also used to line all my stuffed animals and dolls up in chairs and preach to them and lead worship – which back in those days was never done by a woman. So I never thought twice about not being able to do something that boys usually did, or have toys & things that “were for boys”. I hated it when people used to say that to me; “That’s for boys.” So? I used to ask for cars sometimes for my birthday or Christmas too. Like I said – like to go fast. And the Green Machine was on my must have list. But just like I didn’t get the Stretch Armstrong I wanted “because it was for boys”, I didn’t get the Green Machine, at least not from my parents or relatives. They got me dolls, and tricycles, and banana seat girl bikes with sparkly streamers and a big yellow Schwinn bike. In fact, I can still remember the combination to my bike lock: B-2-5-3. Don’t ask me how I still know that. It was nice to be given those things, but they weren’t always what I “really wanted”.
One thing I realize now about myself is that I’ve always had a drive and determination planted in me to just go for it. That magic fairy dust to leap off the edge and end up flying. When I set my mind to something, I race for the prize and pretty much win it. It doesn’t matter how much is stacked up against me or who my competition is. Once I’ve made up my mind that I’m going to do something, nothing gets in my way, nothing deters me, depresses me, or makes me doubt that I cannot achieve my goal. I don’t listen to the nay-sayers or let fear hold me back. I think that fear of failure is what holds a lot of people back from just starting. But that is another story for another time. I had my eye on the prize – the Green Machine – and one way or another I was going to be racing it down my block.
Soon, opportunity knocked and I answered the door. Our church was hosting a Bible School week and aside of the boys against the girls offering contest, there were other prizes to be won for the person who brought the most number of visitors. That number one prize was, you guessed it, The Green Machine! I was determined to win that thing so I had my parents pick up at least ten kids every day that week and stuff them into our car somehow. At the end of the week, I thought I hadn’t brought enough kids to Bible School and was almost defeated when some of my visitors couldn’t come on some of the days. But at the end of the week, the announcements were finally made and I won that Green Machine! I couldn’t believe it! I could hardly wait to get it home and put it together. This is probably the one prized possession I had as a kid! I felt like Ralphie in the Christmas Story with his new gun.
So we got that Green Machine, home and before long, I was racing down the sidewalk on that thing watching all the other little kids eat my dust! I couldn’t believe how that thing handled. What power! What speed! What steering! I was in heaven and the only thing I didn’t have on was a leather jacket to complete the whole bad to the bone package. But as we know, all good things must come to an end, and eventually that Green Machine went missing. Somebody stole it. All my hard work to earn that thing and somebody comes along and just takes it.
Jump forward a few hundred years, (for all those of you who think I’m really old now) and now I’m looking back on some similar life experiences. I think about all the times I had worked so hard for something and how good it felt for me to earn those things rather than feel entitled to them like they should just be handed to me. I thought about how some people who don’t work for things are sometimes handed them on a silver platter because they’re related to someone, or their dad is the boss, or they are handed a ministry position in the church because their dad is a pastor. Sure, they do have to prove themselves and do a good job. But so many times when people are given titles or positions or authority and they haven’t really earned them, they often don’t appreciate them and take it for granted. And a lot of times they end up leading by their title or position, and not their actual influence.
I think about how a few times, my hard earned work has been repackaged by someone else who wanted to take a shortcut and couldn’t come up with the idea on their own. And I watch as many people who have not earned where they are take kudos from others for work they haven’t accomplished. I wonder how they must feel about themselves having to keep up the facade that they are a great big fraud. I see it happen so often with a lot of things in this world. I see people so hungry for attention, or power, or position, affirmation and applause that they will do anything, even use God’s name to get it, and instead of giving Him the credit, they bask in their own glory. They have their eye on the wrong prize. And they cheat to get it.
When we “take” things that haven’t been deserved or earned, and we haven’t really invested in them, we are like the foolish servant in the parable of the talents who buried his talent in the ground. (Matthew 25:14-30) The master expected him to do something with it, to invest in it, to work with it. Just like God; to some he gives much, to some he gives little. But it’s not about what you received to start off with. It’s what you do with what you’ve got that will earn you the privilege of receiving more or getting promoted. It’s what you do with people that will earn their respect. It’s how you influence others that will make them follow your leadership, not your title, not your family relations, and not how much you force them to follow you with your fancy title or position of authority. I’ve known people who were in leadership that no one followed. They tried to rule with their title and position, but those methods won’t get you what you want. The things you really want like respect, honor and integrity have to be earned, and that must be combined with humility, servanthood, and compassion for others. Otherwise, you haven’t really learned what being a leader means. A leader is about enlarging others and being a servant, not being served by others to enlarge yourself. People will not continue to follow someone who is only concerned about themselves.
I remember how good I felt about earning that Green Machine. Especially since society told me I couldn’t have it because I was a girl and it was only for boys. It wasn’t handed to me by rich parents or because of my gender like some kids got it. I earned it with hard work, perseverance, and determination. Today I’m not working for Green Machines. In fact, I’m not really trying to gain things for myself personally that are only temporary pleasures that will eventually fade away. Doing things for the sake of having possessions, power or prestige do not interest me anymore. I want to work hard for God’s approval and for His Kingdom & glory, not my own. When God sees that you are serious about what He’s allowed you to do, what talents and gifts He’s put in you, and that you are being a good steward with them, He will allow you to advance – if that is His plan for you, and if you have invested wisely in what He’s already given you. He will give you a little more to invest with as long as you are not doing it for selfish gain, but for His Kingdom and His glory. So many people want to jump right into big positions without earning their way there. They want huge platforms or massive ministries, but they don’t understand sometimes what it takes to have those responsibilities. They are only looking at how big it will make them feel. Then they find out too late that they are in over their head or just not cut out for the job. They coveted the position. Rather than using it for the good of others, they used it for their own self-satisfaction. But in the end, I know that what you possess does not bring satisfaction. It’s about being content and at peace with what you have, whatever circumstance you are in, no matter what, and being able to trust God for your needs, only desiring Him above anything else.
When I was a child, I thought like a child. I used to think things like The Green Machine would make me happy. And although driving at fast speeds is very enjoyable, or having nice things, a roof over your head, a cushy job that pays the bills, a family, and good health – those things are not required in order to know true contentment, true peace, and true joy. Yet people still think “if only….” “if only I had a bigger house, a better car, a better job, made more money, got married, had kids, had a successful business or ministry, hung out with a certain group of people….if only I had “that” I would be happy.” We sometimes get caught up in wanting the next big deal that we think will make us happy. We are looking for the next Green Machine in life. We’re looking for a higher status instead of being content with where we’re at. But status does not make you happy. It is just an illusion. It is just a lie. If you can’t be thankful for what God has given you already, and are always asking for more, why should He give it to you if you’re just going to keep complaining and not enjoy what He’s already given you to enjoy? Why should He give you more if you have only buried what you have in the ground? Why should He give you more responsibility when you can barely handle the responsibility you have now? You want a better car? That comes with a bigger price tag. Bigger house = Bigger mortgage. Fancy job title = more responsibility and hard work. Are you seriously ready for that headache when you are already having headaches with what you’ve got?
One day I finally realized that I was not content. And I had fallen into the trap of thinking it was because of the things I did or didn’t have. But I kept getting more things and those things really didn’t make me happy. They didn’t give me peace. I was not content. And I used to get angry at God for not giving me what I prayed for, but now I know it’s because He could see that I needed to learn to only be content IN HIM. True contentment is only going to happen to you if you get to the point where you want for nothing; nothing but to know God more intimately and walk closer with Him all the days of your life.
Psalm 17:15 “As for me, I will continue beholding Your face in righteousness (rightness, justice, and right standing with You); I shall be fully satisfied, when I awake [to find myself] beholding Your form and having sweet communion with You.”
Psalm 27:4 ” One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.”
Psalm 63:1 “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”
What is your Green Machine? What is the thing (or things) you think will make you happy if you just had it? The thing that makes you restless and keeps you striving for it until you get it? Let go of it. Because nothing you can possess on this earth will fill you like the contentment only God can give. And if you continue to seek His face, you will find what you’re looking for.