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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Leave the driving to him

24-26"Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?
(Matthew 16:24-26)

I remember driving with a friend of the family when I was about twelve.  The gentleman drove like none other that I have driven with since!  I was in the backseat, hanging on for dear life, and just hoping that we made it to his home sooner than later!  Not only did he drive a little faster than I'd been accustomed to, but he was kind of a "hopper" in his driving.  I don't really know how to describe it, but what he was doing was pushing down on the gas, lurching forward, then pulling back on the gas just as quickly.  It was like we were zooming, slowing, zooming, slowing, repeatedly!  If I had of known about whiplash at that age, I think I was a good candidate it for it!

Sometimes that is how we are in our walk - we mash down on the gas, zooming full-speed ahead, then almost without warning, pull back, cutting off all source of "energy" for the road ahead.  We make lunges forward, then almost stop on a dime without any warning.  Can you imagine how that must frustrate those that are along on this ride with us?  Not to mention, how much it must drive Jesus nuts to see us make a start, halt, make a start, halt, over and over again!

Jesus gives his disciples some advice here:  He is in the driver's seat - let him drive!  We try to do all the driving and wonder why we end up injured, off course, and in a mess of "traffic" in our lives.  Jesus makes it quite clear - he's not driving!  The driver controls the speed at which one travels, the course one takes, and the safety of all those in his vehicle.  When Jesus is in the driver's seat, there is not a whole lot of room for error!

Think about it - we go through all kinds of "self-help" adventures in our lifetime.  We commit to a diet, then blow it.  We join a gym, then "forget" to go.  We promise ourselves we won't get angry the next time somebody "does us wrong", then we fly off the handle at the slightest infraction.  We are just not good at helping ourselves!  We need a "driver" to get us to our destination.  

Jesus points out that it is in embracing where he is leading us that we realize the beauty of the journey.  When we embrace something, we are taking it gladly - there is an eagerness to our taking.  Willingness is all Jesus is asking for - the ability to avail ourselves of his leading is something that we struggle with because we struggle with willingly allowing anyone else to "lead" in our lives.  What God works with the most is a cheerful readiness for whatever he asks and wherever he takes us.  What we struggle with the most is the framework of our minds (the cheerfulness) and the fear of the unknown (being taken where we have not gone before)!

Here's what Jesus promises:
If he leads, we get there in one piece.
If he leads, we get to enjoy the journey along the way.
If he leads, we get to our destination not one minute too early or too late.
If he leads, we avoid the "traffic" jams of worry.
If he leads, we might even have the enjoyment of other traveling companions along the way to keep us company in our journey.

So, who is in the driver's seat?  You might be able to determine that by how many starts and stops you've been making along the way!  Running out of gas is a sure sign we are not being "driven", but are attempting to "drive"!