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In the Driver's Seat?


It was a different time. Either humanity was more trusting or just plain unaware. The dangers were certainly present back then. But the laws didn't exist. I can recall being a very small child nestled in my father's lap as he drove the family station wagon. I remember being delighted by the experience of trying to hold on to the ginormous steering wheel while dad pretended I was in control. Yikes! Of course, I wasn't!

Driving is a tremendous and even terrifying responsibility. Yes, there have been laws put in place to attempt to keep humanity safer while operating such massive machines. And yes, manufacturers have added safety features as well. But ultimately safe driving is in the hands of the operator. Actually, not only the hands but also the eyes, minds, ears, and reflexes of the driver! It's not a seat to occupy carelessly!

Linked to my memories of cruising along in my father's lap is a more recent experience of being engaged in an intense life-coaching seminar. Even though it was well over a decade ago I recall the conversation clearly. The "coach" asked me to imagine being five years old again and being behind the steering wheel of my life. Yikes! My horrified response was exactly what she was going for. Far better for me at fifty to take charge of my life than to continue to careen recklessly through it. Being in the driver's seat of one's own life is not to be taken lightly!

Of course, we have limitations. We are entangled in a myriad of relationships and circumstances that are not ultimately under our control. We are flawed and finite. Yes, we have some power to determine and decide and do. Largely, we are not puppets. Generally, we are not enslaved. But we are creatures. Humans humming along in a world which teeters between random and regular from one moment to the next.

And how do we creatures understand the involvement of our Creator in it all? We might, at times, wish for a more potent showing of the Almighty. We may, as well, feel personally constrained by the fear generated by our perceptions of God's power. During particularly wobbly times, we can even be overheard saying "God is in control of this" as if to convince one or the other of us (it could be news to God!). But would we really want a Lord sitting at the wheel of the Twister game barking out commands for the placement of our feet and hands? Is that a God to love and who loves?

At the conclusion of his book What Shall We Say? Evil, Suffering, and the Crisis of Faith Tom Long recounts a story by John L'Heureux titled "The Expert on God." The main character is a priest whose predictable faith has withered and waned. Happening upon a horrific car accident one afternoon, the priest cradles the young driver as he sputters his final breath but not without the priest's startling declaration on behalf of the Divine: "I love you. I love you. I love you." Long suggests the priest is a "converted man who moves from a childish faith to a mature and hopeful one. The priest gives up his immature idea of a God who comes when we whistle to make everything all right in favor of a God who is at work in suffering as the hidden and loving warrior, summoning the faithful to join their actions with God's."

Who's in the driver's seat of your life? Are we aware of what a dangerously awesome thing it is to be held in the hands of such fierce and vulnerable love?

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