I grew up in the era of black-and-white television (1950s), when Westerns were the most popular action genre. There were no computer graphics or other hi-tech special effects in shows like The Lone Ranger, Gunsmoke, and Wanted: Dead or Alive—and no cars for the now-obligatory car chase. Instead, the action often peaked when a stagecoach or train was attacked by bandits in black hats (to distinguish them from the white-hatted good guys). Horses pulling a heavy stagecoach didn’t stand a chance of outrunning bandits on horseback, but trains did. As the music reached a crescendo, the tension mounted and the scene alternated between the hero holding the bad guys at bay, the engineer gritting his teeth, and the fireman frantically shoveling coal into the furnace that powered the train’s steam engine. The more coal the fireman could pile on, the hotter the fire and the faster the train would go. As long as there was coal to feed the fire, there was hope.
Our spiritual well-being is a bit like that. When bad things happen, negative thoughts and emotions descend and threaten to undo us. Unless we can escape, they will rob us of the fighting spirit we need to make it through. On our own, we don’t stand any more chance against that negativity than a stagecoach had against outlaws. But faith in God is like a steam engine, far more powerful than mere willpower. We fuel the engine by affirming God’s power and goodness, by thanking Him for the help we know He will give, even before He steps in. The more we do that, the faster and farther we are distanced from the negative.
The next time bad circumstances befall you and negativity closes in, put your faith into action by focusing on God and His unfailing love and help. Stoke the engine. Outrun the bandits.