I broke my arm back at the beginning of March and that was a bummer. The real killer was that I wasn’t allowed to drive. OUCH!
Being banned from the driver’s seat probably shouldn’t have been a surprise to me. “Really? I drive with one arm most of the time anyway!” What was surprising to me was the sense of loss. I love to drive. I know that’s not very “green,” but I really do enjoy the experience. A car gets me places. I see the world out its windows. It helps me go, and go fast! The part that was most painful about being a “designated passenger” was that my wife, Amy, had to drive me. And it wasn’t just painful for me. Turns out, I’m not a very good passenger. I’m not really a backseat driver, but that’s only because I don’t ride in the back. You can’t be a backseat driver from the front seat, can you?
After the 4th time Amy threatened to make me get out and walk, I had to admit, I had a problem. No, I *was* a problem. I was *the* problem. I confess I didn’t stop offering my “useful suggestions” and “helpful driving tips” as I should have, but I did come to understand what was happening when I offered my “observations.” I was telling her what to do; how to drive. It turns out only one person can drive.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. -Proverbs 3:5-6
It’s easy for us to critique God and His “driving” – how He’s allowing our lives to move forward. We sit in the passenger seat and tell Him how it should be; how He’s messing things up. Not only must this irritate God just as it did Amy, it’s an indicator something is wrong in our relationship with Him. Namely, we don’t trust Him. What are we to do?
Proverbs 3:5-6 gives us three things we can do as well as the results we can expect:
1. Use your heart (Trust in the Lord with all your heart) – When you are in love with someone, you will do anything for them. I’ve seen teen boys do and eat things they never would have all for the love of girl, and vice versa. Cultivating a deep, authentic love for God is key to doing whatever He would ask. For me, taking time to journal and consider the good things God has done in my life helps to cultivate this love. What about you? What activities draw out your love and affection for God?
2. Don’t trust yourself (lean not on your own understanding) – The reason I critiqued Amy’s driving is not because she’s a bad driver, it’s because I think I’m a better one. This is arrogance. It’s also how many of us think about our own lives. We’re better at it than God. But really, am we better at life than God? The one who invented life – including our own?! Certainly not. But I think I am. Why? Because I trust my physical senses and my own mind more than my invisible God. This is where having friends who are fellow students of Christ is important. They help us see things we can’t see on our own. They remind us that we don’t know everything. Which friends help you trust God more?
3. Don’t hold back (in all your ways submit to him) – Imagine visiting a doctor who tells you that you have an illness that can be cured if you take a pair of medications. Now imagine telling the doctor that you’re only going to take one of them, and that you might also try something she hasn’t prescribed. If you don’t follow *all* of the doctor’s instructions you won’t get better. This is what many of us do with God. We follow the parts that are easy, but ignore or justify not doing the parts that are hard. What does God want you to do that you won’t do or just haven’t done? It’s time to do that. You can’t follow God half way – it’s all or nothing.
4. Straight paths (he will make your paths straight) – The analogy of a straight path is easily misunderstood to mean a life without problems, but we know that’s not how life works. We would do better to interpret the straight path as being the one with the fewest problems and specifically the one with problems not caused by ourselves. There will still be problems brought on by external forces, but imagine a life where we aren’t the cause of the majority of our difficulties. That is the reward for a life submitted to God. He navigates the external problems and we don’t create our own along the way!
Thankfully, I can drive again. From a marital health standpoint, this is a good thing. More importantly, I trust I am little wiser for the experience. Telling my wife how to drive is a bad idea (not to mention, pointless), but the far more important lesson is this: life is better when God drives.
Mark can be reached via via email.