“Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings…” (Psalm 33:3)
Over the course of the latter part of the 1900’s, a major bus line used the slogan – “Leave the Driving to Us.” The campaign tag line periodically appeared for over four decades in much of the company’s advertising, from TV commercials to billboards and magazines. The ‘sit back and leave the driving to us’ philosophy is based on the premise that if you let another trained driver be in charge, you will be able to relax and arrive at your destination without all of the stress. A new source of stress can result from self-driving car technology which seems to be advancing every year. It’s only a matter of time until fully driverless vehicles will appear on our public streets and highways. Meanwhile, we are being eased into acceptance with vehicle alerts that warn us about lane departure and provide braking assist. I must admit, I have been intrigued by some of the commercials which highlight recent car models that offer a seemingly ingenious solution to one of the trickiest driving tasks: parallel parking. In some vehicles, you can actually stand outside your car as it literally parks itself. How cool is that, if it does the job correctly.
Relinquishing control is difficult for most of us, especially when it is deeply personal. Most people would prefer to be knocked out entirely during any surgery, but most people aren’t British violinist Dagmar Turner who plays with the Isle of Wight Symphony Orchestra. As I viewed clips of the 53-year-old woman who played the violin during her brain surgery – I was astonished. Diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2013 after she collapsed on stage mid-performance, Turner had been undergoing radiotherapy and other treatments. But as the tumor increased in size, its removal from her right frontal lobe became necessary early in 2020. Because the tumor was located near an area of her brain that controls the fine movement of her left hand, Turner feared she could lose the ability to play the violin. Though unconventional, the exercise of allowing the patient to make music during the surgery was put in place by specialists at King’s College Hospital in London. Awakened at mid-point into the procedure – Turner’s ability to play assisted physicians in monitoring areas of her brain responsible for delicate hand movement and coordination. A successful outcome allowed for the continuance of her musical passion which began at the age of ten.
Most of us are familiar with the terminology ‘backseat driver.’ Indeed, you have likely been one, if you have relinquished the driver’s seat to someone else but continued to tell them how to drive. I don’t know about you, but I usually don’t have much success trying to boss someone while instilling trust in them at the same time. Backseat drivers often show a limited perspective. Due to their imperfect view – they don’t have the full scope of all the cars around them and, therefore, aren’t able to make the best judgment call for the situation. Attempting to be in control and surrendering control simultaneously just doesn’t work. However, that’s exactly what many of us do as we live out our lives as Christians. When we become Believers in Christ – we say we will give Him the driver’s seat, but then we position ourselves as backseat drivers. Jesus told his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). A modern-day translation of this scripture puts it this way: “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am” (The Message). When you and I accept Jesus as our Savior, we must allow Him to control the wheel. We, in effect, step out of that role and become a passenger. The spiritual reference for this is surrendering our life to Christ. The Apostle Paul called it “a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1).
Giving up the driver’s seat isn’t natural for any of us. And while backseat drivers are supposed to just be along for the ride, most really want to be in charge of the whole trip. Nevertheless, if we have truly surrendered to Christ, one must regularly ask who is the One doing the driving. That doesn’t mean that we no longer make decisions but rather that we pause, pray, and prepare ourselves for answers that may, in fact, not place us on the route we thought we were taking. The fact is that Jesus will at times navigate us over roads that aren’t very appealing, but those are the times when we must trust him to get us where we need to be. Seize each opportunity to follow the words of His disciple: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Then, and only then, will we realize that playing skillfully on the strings of our life can only be accomplished when He alone is in charge of the journey.
REFFLECTION: Are you convinced that allowing God to drive is best? What details of your life are most difficult for you to surrender? What difference would it make to give God control of those areas that cause you concern and stress? Establish a plan for letting go and allowing Him to take the wheel.