Have you ever been driving and had someone in the vehicle comment constantly on your driving telling you what to do and how to do it? Did you like it? I’ve never met anyone who likes a backseat driver. According to Miriam-Webster online, a backseat driver is a passenger in a vehicle who is not controlling the vehicle but who excessively comments on the driver’s actions and decisions in an attempt to control the vehicle. We’ve all experienced it from someone in our lives. They make comments about your driving, especially when they feel like you’re taking a risk that they wouldn’t take. What they don’t realize is that backseat driving increases the risk of having a crash because of the added stress and distraction.
When you and I accept Jesus as our savior, we put Him in the driver’s seat of our lives. We, in effect, step out of that role and become a passenger. The church phrase is, “surrendering your life to Christ”. Yet how many of us have truly surrendered our lives to Him? We don’t mind surrendering the parts of our life we struggle with, but being a Christian is about surrendering everything. Remember the old hymn “I Surrender All”? Somewhere we have lost what it means to surrender our entire life to Him. When we are both trying to control the outcome of our life, we become a backseat driver to Jesus and increase the risk of messing things up. We start telling Him what we think He should do when we don’t have all the information He has as the one in control.
Jesus said it best in Matthew 16:24, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am” (MSG). You and I have to surrender the driving seat to Him. One way I do this is each morning before my feet hit the floor is to pray, “Lord, I open myself up to you. Fill me with your Spirit until I’m overflowing. Speak through me, love through me and live through me today. Let my words and actions be reflections of who you are. Use me in anyway you see fit. I surrender to your will.” Surrendering the driver’s seat isn’t natural. It has to be a daily and sometimes hourly. God is good and has a plan for your life that is greater than your own plan. Getting out of the driver’s seat and allowing Him to take over is the best thing you can do for your life.
Photo by Createria on Unsplash
My wife and I took a road trip this weekend. The two of us were in the front seat and our toddler was in the back seat. All throughout the trip she would talk to him, play with him and occupy him while I drove. There were a couple of times when she was playing with him when a car in front of me had braked. I too applied my break. When I did, she would look up or turn around to see a car in front of me with their brake lights on and she would let out a yelp and brace herself with the dashboard. We laughed because it was unusual for her to do that.
After doing this a couple of times, I told her, “I got this. Trust me. I knew he was going to brake and I was prepared.” I explained that I had taken defensive driving classes plenty of times (don’t ask why) and that they taught me to look 10-20 seconds ahead to where I was going. As a passenger though, she wasn’t occupied with what was ahead. She kept getting startled and scared by what kept popping up in our path because she wasn’t looking ahead. She was looking behind mostly or right in front of us.
I think a lot of us live life that way. We are either constantly looking back while our lives are moving forward or we are so concentrated on what is right ahead of us that we fail to look ahead. We get caught up when something pops up that we didn’t expect and let out a yelp. We see brake lights in our path and grab our dashboard in fear. We get preoccupied with everything around us without looking ahead to where we are going.
When we do that, I can hear God say, “I got this. Trust me. I knew this was going to happen.” Instead of trusting Him though, we become a backseat driver to Him. We tell Him He should have braked earlier. He should have warned us. We question why He’s taking this road instead of that one. We tell Him to slow down or to speed up. Our lack of trust in who He is and in the plan for our lives begins to show up when we do this.
It kind of reminds me of the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32. The son who had left was returning home after he squandered all that was given to him. While he was walking, he was so concentrated on what he would say. He worried if he would be received and was practicing over and over what he would tell his dad when he got home. He was doing this so much, that he wasn’t even looking ahead. He didn’t know where he was, but his dad did. He was still a long way off when his father saw him and ran to him.
God is always looking far off ahead of us. He knows our path and His plan for our lives. While we are looking down or behind, He is looking ahead and preparing. When things happen suddenly, it may cause you to grab the dashboard and scream because you are unprepared for it, but He is not. Trust Him to do the driving His way. Just because where He is taking you doesn’t make sense at the moment, it doesn’t mean He has fallen asleep at the wheel. Trust Him with your life and try not to be a backseat driver.