Last week I was driving my Freshman son to school and we came up to what is known to be a Looooonnnng stoplight. While he insisted that we would be late, I decided that, instead of waiting for 3 minutes to go straight, I would safely and legally turn right, turn left and turn right again and save my son 2.5 minutes and keep him on time for class. He was quite frustrated with me at first and I asked him point blank "Do you TRUST me?". And from the back seat of the car, his blunt answer was - NO!
While it was mildly amusing to me as I schooled my son, I was forced to confront my own issues when I was put in the backseat of God's car insisting that God must be making a mistake. I'm now a staff minister at St. Paul's Lutheran in Muskego and part of my role is to help with funerals. When we heard that God had called home a beloved member of our church, Christian college mentor and softball coach, husband and father in a God fearing family... let's just say I had a hard time not questioning God's decision and his timing. In fact, on some levels I still am.
"God, I know you're in heaven and you can see all things, but in case you didn't notice, your Christian church on earth needs all the help it can get. I'm not so sure this was a good idea.." "Father, you passionately instructed husbands how to love their wives and wives love their husbands and parents love their children and kids honor your parents... we sure could use more LIVING examples of that in our world. I'm not so sure this was a good idea..." Years ago, 11 year old me found out about the death of a beloved mentor and neighborhood friend. I cried and screamed - believing that if God raised people from the dead in the bible, he could do it again for my friend... Many of you know what I'm talking about.
I have to admit, from my place in the backseat of God's car, I don't always like where He's taking me... taking us. Many days I'm sure that, if God just listened to my advice, this thing would work out OK. The trip would be quicker and more successful. The words from Isaiah sting as my heavenly Dad turns around and looks at his son and says "Son, do you trust me?" and I sheepishly, or angrily, or sadly say NO!!
And yet on he drives, knowing of the wound and fear in my heart and drives to where he knows I need to go and where only he can lead.
As we consider the upcoming Christmas season, perhaps we might reflect that God's rescue plan, in the person of Jesus, born into humanity in the humility of a stable in Bethlehem is FAR from the script we would have written. And yet it had to be done this way so that every prophecy would be fulfilled, every promise of God would come true, every sin would be forgiven and every trusting soul would be delivered.
Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit - I'm afraid you're driving the wrong way. Overcome my fear with your constant assuring presence. Forgive my doubting, accusing heart. Help my unbelief and deliver me from evil. In this season of life, when it's all out of my control - give me a faith that sees Jesus and your deep desire for all people to have a personal relationship with you through Christ. May it be before me as it was with Job when he said - "My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you".
By faith, I know that you don't need a backseat driver. Help me to leave my life and future in the safety of your hands and your plan! Drive on dear Jesus!