Thursday, July 17, 2008

Driver's Seat

I like to drive. When I am stressed, worried, anxious or just need to think, I drive or want to. After I got my driver's license in high school, every time I felt my life spiraling out of control I would get in my car and drive for as long as I could afford. Getting in my car and driving gives me some sense of control over my life - when I am in the car, I am in control. 

In the past 39 days, I have driven over 4000 miles, with 1063 more to go. I have had a lot of time to think and be in control, but have found myself doing less thinking and more being.  I have been wanting to make this trip for a while, and being the determined person that I am, found a way to make it happen. My dream was to drive across the country and visit people in different cities along the way, with the majority of my time being spent in Chicago.

One thing that has been evident during this trip is how God has a way of being so present in our lives...some may choose to call this "coincidence" or "chance" or "fate" or "destiny," but I prefer "grace" or "providence" or "blessing" or maybe even "love."  I have encountered God in so many ways on this cross-country journey - in old friends and new, in strangers and people passing, in the ways he manipulated situations to be exactly where he wanted me to be for certain things to happen.  God's blessings, his ways of telling us how much he loves us, have abounded these past 39 days.  Why God in all his holiness has chosen to love me is far beyond my comprehension, leaving me in awe of his goodness.  While I have been in the driver's seat, it seems that God has been in the passenger seat, but he is more like the "co-pilot."

God does not want to control us, but he does want what is best for us.  He gave us freewill because love is not love if it is not freely chosen or given.  God freely chose to love us and allows us to choose his ways or our own.  I don't think God wants to be in our driver's seat. I think God wants to read us the directions while we drive, warn us of what we may not see while driving, and help us open that water bottle or peel that banana to satisfy our needs as our hands are otherwise preoccupied.

We will still get a little lost and turned around from time to time. We will still get tired and need a break.  We will still have little and sometimes big accidents along the way.  God as our co-pilot will help us get back on the right road, with the determination and energy needed to finish the journey, and courage to get back up and try again...even when we are afraid of crashing one more time.

Being in the driver's seat is a huge responsibility.  We must also acknowledge our responsibility for every other person in the vicinity of our moving vehicle.  While we can choose to go throughout life making decisions that we are often led to make in an effort to make ourselves happy and be independently in control of our lives, we must realize that we are all dependent upon and responsible for one another...friend or stranger.  Every choice we make will somehow affect another person, directly or indirectly.  

The driver's seat requires us to follow the rules of the road, listen to our co-pilot, and work to keep ourselves and those we are sharing our journey with safe.  This trip has not been about the destination but the journey travelled. In the end, it's not about what we did, but how we did it.  This trip has not been so much about making me happy but hoping to show many people how much I do love them, and God showing me how much he loves me too... This journey has brought much new life to me and hopefully to those I have been privileged to encounter along the way.

We are all in the driver's seat of our own lives. We are responsible for ourselves and the decisions we make.  We are responsible for how our choices affect others. The destination is and always will be God and our relationships with others, but the journey that gets us there is how we come to know, love, and trust this amazing being who is God.

"The road now leads onward as far as can be
Winding lanes and hedge rows in threes
Light purple mountains around every bend
All roads lead to you there's not journey's end

Here is my heart
I give it to you
Take me with you across this land
These are my dreams so simple and few
Dreams we hold in the palm of our hand

Deep in the winter amidst falling snow
High in the air the bells they all toll
Now all around me I feel you still here
Such is the journey no mystery to fear

The road now leads onward I know not where
I feel in my heart that you will be there
Whenever a storm comes whatever our fears
The journey goes on as your love further nears"

-Loreena McKennitt

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