Driving Through Life

By Keith Miller | August 31, 2010

Last week I got a text message from a new friend:  “Can you tell me what God is to you?”  I realized how different a world we live in to try to communicate the Gospel (than the one I learned about God).  Not that the question was bad in any way.  It was a great question, but the expectation was that in using 150 characters I could tell another person what my relationship with God is and what it means to me.

Later the same day I was in a meeting of people who were (like me) on a spiritual journey and a similar question came up.  “What is your relationship with God like?”  And “How has it changed as you have gotten closer to God over the years?”

When my turn to speak came, I thought about my friend’s question and said something like the following:


When I first heard about God as a child, it was as if my life were a car I was given by God to drive through life.  I put God in the car with my family and closest friends (with God in the back seat with my parents and my closest friends were in the front seat with me).  And I learned to talk to God when no one else was in the car.

Then when I was an adult and the members of my family of origin had all died or were killed (before I was 30), I made a serious personal commitment of as much of my life as I could to as much of God as I could understand in the story of Jesus’ life, teaching and sacrificial death.  (Looking back I didn’t understand as much as I thought I did.)  But I was very serious, and so I moved God into the front seat next to me and put everyone else in the back seat.

My prayer life changed radically.  Every morning I would wake up in the car, turn to God, and say something like, “Good morning, God.  I love you and am grateful for a good night’s sleep and for all the good things and people in my life.”  I’d tell God about my problems, confess a sin once in a while, and ask God to help me with my burdens that I couldn’t seem to carry.  Things like that.

Then I’d start the car, and say something like, “God, I’m going to drive to Dallas on business and I will appreciate your help as I talk to some people about you, or about a new insurance policy, or investment, etc.”  I began to live for God one day at a time.

Then, a bit later, I learned to add at the end of my prayers, “But Lord, not my will but yours—if you have other plans for me.” Someone asked me at that point, “What happened to your life with God in your car when you tried to surrender your entire life to God?”

“Whoa,” I thought.  “Good question.”   Then I slowly began to explain,  “Well, although nothing changed about my circumstances, when I tried to surrender my entire life—everything—to God and to begin living each day as if it were my last, it was as if I had given God the keys to the car, transferred the title to Him… and let God sit in the driver’s seat.”

“How did that change things?”

“Well, it’s one thing to tell God where we are going and what I’m going to do, and then to ask God to help me do that.  But it’s quite different to realize that it is God’s car and he’s in the driver’s seat and turn and speak to him about my day!”

“Different?  How?”

“Well, I used to tell God where I was going and ask for his help to succeed or deal with any failures.  But now if I am going to live each day as if it were my last, I get in the passenger’s seat and ask … “Where are we going today?”  And that’s a whole new adventure.”

Lord, thank you that you give us ways to plan ahead (to make appointments and pay the bills, etc.), yet to fill most of today with doing the next right thing and trusting you with the things we can’t do today.  As I can gradually learn to quit committing to do things that are about my self-centered need to be important and successful, and concentrate on loving you and the people I will see today, I feel more loved and fulfilled than I ever did in my feverish driving to multi-task my way through long frantic days of busy-ness.  Help me to listen and plan today, and make other arrangements with those things and people I can’t tend to today, until I can learn to live a life-sized life with you, loving and listening to the people you put in my life this day and wherever you take me today.  I love you.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

“Take me by the hand;
Lead me down the path of truth.
You are my Savior, aren’t you?”  (Ps. 25:5, The Message)

***

“My Lord god, I have no idea where I am going.  I do not see the road ahead of me.  I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.  But I believe that the desire to please you does in face please you.

And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.  I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.  I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

One comment | Add One

  1. Pat - 09/1/2010 at 10:27 am

    Thanks for the timing of this article. It is truly helpful to me today–where I am and the decisions I’m struggling with. I think I’ll try to turn the keys over to God and see what happens.

    Peace and love, Keith

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