- Leah Van Someren
Jesus Take the Wheel
Have you ever tried hijacking a vehicle…speeding 120mph…at night…up a hairpin, mountain road? You know, when you’re positive the driver can’t see the road as well as you and the only way to stay safe is to drive yourself? You are certain you must take a right and if the driver turns left, he will plummet you off the edge of a cliff to impending doom!
As you grapple for the wheel, he lovingly submits, feigning relinquishing control. Unbeknownst to you (and for your good), he continues commanding the foot pedals. You jerk the car around corners, narrowly missing oncoming traffic and screeching past wildlife. White knuckled, you gripe and complain how difficult it is driving from the passenger seat. After the learned struggle, your driver-turned-pedal-pusher taps on your shoulder, asking if you’d like to assume the passenger seat. Wearily, you throw your hands up and join your girl, Carrie Underwood in song…Jesus take the wheel!
Does any of this sound familiar?!
God recently revealed this foundational theme in my life…
I don’t trust, in my heart of hearts, God is good.
Because I don’t trust, in my heart of hearts, God is good, I don’t believe God will honor His promises.
Because I don’t believe God will honor His promises, I don’t rely on God’s providence.
Because I don’t rely on God’s providence, I am convinced I must take care of myself.
Because I am convinced I must take care of myself, I hijack my life from God.
When I hijack my life from God, I excessively plan.
When I excessively plan, I pay homage to the idol of control.
When I pay homage to the idol of control, I flee Jesus’ presence.
Real life example:
I am breaking my lease on my current living situation by a full year. To do so smoothly, I needed to find a suitable roommate replacement. One who my current roommates approve of and would leave the house as positive as it is right now. I’ve been thinking (notice I said thinking, not praying) about this since October when I committed to the Race.
As April approached, you know what I did first? Planned. Stressed and high-strung, I armed all social channels with requests for a roommate and as responses came in, I brought girls in left and right to see the space. Knowing very little about my proposed candidates left me in the dog house with my roommates who felt like I wasn’t taking care to vet options according to our house culture.
Taking the feedback, I edited my process – not with prayer – but just asking more in-depth questions of the potential suitors. Yet even still, I traversed the well-worn path and white knuckled my way to a solution. In the sixth attempt, I brought in a girl who both roommates felt great about! (It was on Saturday, April 15 for the sake of timelines).
“Yes!” I rejoiced, “I did it! One more thing off my list!”
I began to relax my grip only to get an email from the potential replacement two days later declining my request to move in. Hope dashed, stress levels at an all-time high, I felt the pang of conviction. I hadn’t prayed, asking God to meet my need. I’d been whipping ‘my’ car – ‘my’ life – around blind turns, convinced I needed to take care of myself because my heart didn’t trust God is good and would provide.
Truth be told, you can pray for intangible things all you want – patience, peace, joy, etc. – without giving up control. Because they aren’t measurable, there is no physical consequence if you don’t in fact gain them. But ask for something tangible, a physical thing (or person) you need and there’s no denying if it’s not provided. It’s not often we feel this need in our privileged lives. And if it’s not provided…then what? You feel the fear and dissonance of lack, requiring you (in your most pious reaction) to double down on your trust in God. That’s scary – trust is scary.
Through this tension of conviction, I felt it, the tap, tap on my shoulder, God lovingly inviting me to return to His presence. Not joking, even every morning devotional I read out of Jesus Calling that week revolved around the harmfulness of excessive planning.
“If you’d like, you can surrender the wheel, Leah. I know where we are going. You can trust Me” His Spirit whispered softly.
That Saturday (April 22), I met with my mentor. I ran her through the story, expressing my plans, stress, conviction and desire to repent. I also explained the fear of praying for something tangible. As we read Scripture, prayed and repented, she also went a step farther and prayed for my physical need. I felt immense peace wash through my heart, the true peace that comes from relinquishing control and returning to God’s presence.
Hours went by and that afternoon, I checked my email only to find a note sent that morning from the woman who once declined. She explained she had a change in priorities and if the space were still available, she would love to move in at the end of May.
Hallelujah! Folks, that right there is a DIRECT answer to prayer, a testimony to God’s true goodness and how He lovingly excepts the wheel back with no condemnation. The truth is, in our need - our lacking - and through our weakness, God’s power – even desire – to provide is glorified if and when we trust His goodness. I can honestly say, if tomorrow I broke my leg and couldn’t serve on the Race, learning this lesson would be worth it.
Thanks be to God