Warring for the Driver’s Seat

Driving. Driving me crazy. Driving me home. Driving me out. Driving me away. Driving me around.

When’s the last time that you thought about God driving. No, I don’t mean driving with you. Anyone could invite God along for the ride of their life. In fact, in a sense God does occupy our passenger seat whether we ask Him to or not: He is God and He is everywhere. We cannot go anywhere to escape from His presence.

What I’m thinking of is God sitting in the driver’s seat of “your” car, going where He wants to go, with you sitting right there beside Him. Depending on where you come from this may sound pleasant or more like your worst nightmare — God, beside you, and behind your wheel?! For most of us, God would have to push us out of the seat Himself for that to happen.

So, if you’re currently behind the wheel, how is your trip going? What type of terrain have you been touring? Who have you met along the way?

To take another look inside your tidy (or crappy) vehicle — however you see it — what is going on there? Are you on the road alone, or are you traveling with someone? How strong is your aversion to back-seat drivers? Are they simply a nuisance, or an dictator with the unwelcome intentions of a terrorist?

Do I sound like I’m getting to intense with this driving illusion? That may be true as far as physical travel but not if you’re considering spiritual travel. The point I am trying to get across is that some of us have been treating God like that despised back-seat driver. But, why do we think of Him this way? Where did He get His reputation?

The quote from The Bismarck Tribune (December 1921) I found on the WordPress blog Dutch’s Journey Through Life (http://dutchjourney.wordpress.com/2009/12/27/back-seat-driver/) should help us think through what we are accusing God of and why:

“A back-seat driver is the pest who sits on the rear cushions of a motor car and tells the driver what to do. He issues a lot of instructions, gives a lot of advice, offers no end of criticism. And doesn’t do a bit of work.”

In light of this description, there is no wonder that the driver would grow tired of hearing the constant hum of suggestions from a removed observer. When I read the above conditions I am immediately aware of a fiery opinion that refuses to see this situation another way. Pure injustice is all it is.

But, can we charge God with injustice? Can we collar Him and bring Him in for questioning? Can we hope to pass judgment on His behaviors and then threaten Him with a penalty unless He strictly attend to His sentence of restitution?

I don’t know if you’ve tried it, but it’s never worked for me. Yeah, I’ve been committed to it, insisting that I would make things right between us no matter what it took. No, there was nothing wrong with how I was doing things, in fact, I was behaving just how I should, but He, He was doing everything He could to take bitter advantage of me.

Oh, there was a time when I knew exactly what I was talking about, and exactly where the line of permissible behavior was to be drawn. I had no doubts about how things were to work between God and I. So long as He never got in my way, He was permitted to stick around and participate in the show I was making for myself.

But, after a few years of driving my stubbornly independent streak, the truth seemed to slap me in the face. I wasn’t making God do anything. I was ignorantly denying myself from knowing Him, and discovering the best of what this ride could offer. Suddenly the arrangement I had prided myself on came crashing down — down on me.

In doing my best to fill the driver’s seat so well that God would never be able to touch the wheel, I wasn’t hurting Him, I was hurting myself. I refused to admit it, but I didn’t know how to drive. Oh, of course I could turn the car on and give it gas; I could move along on the road and put my forearm in place of the descended window; I could sway and sing to the radio, and operate the wheel with my knees. But, I never did I know where I was going, or what was the point of driving at all. Sometimes I would dream of stopping the car and getting out — the people I passed on the perimeter this busy artery looked like they were having so much more fun than I was. What was I missing?

If only I had known that I was missing the enjoyment and direction of the One sitting beside. He had been a steadfast passenger on all of my little jaunts, yet good for nothing, I thought. I didn’t realize that it wasn’t about being in a car, driving fast and keeping ahead, but making the most of the opportunity it provided for me to see Jesus up close. I had the chance to watch Him, talk to Him, hear His thoughts, like His steadiness and revel in His willingness to hear my thoughts and help me understand as well as He does why I am the way I am.