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.
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Several years ago I lost just about everything in my life that mattered to me. I went through a six month stretch where I would think I hit rock bottom, but then the bottom would fall out again. No matter what I tried, no matter what I did, I couldn’t stop the free fall. When there was nothing left, I cried out to God one night and said, “Lord, I give up! I can’t do this anymore.” Laying there on that floor, i heard God’s still, small voice whisper back, “Finally.” For Years I had been fighting what God wanted to do in my life and had been living life for myself instead of for Him. I had built the life I wanted on top of the foundation He had laid.
That night, in my mind, i saw a picture of myself curled up in the fetal position on a foundation. There was debris all around me and it was pouring down rain. I didn’t have the strength or the will to get up. I believe God was showing me my life at that moment. Everything I had built had been stripped away. When I said, “God, I’ve been left with nothing,” He relied, “You still have your foundation. If you’ll let me, I’ll build on it the life I want you to have.” I prayed, “Lord, do with my life what you want. I don’t ever want to go through that again.”
In Psalm 16:5, David prayed a similar prayer that resonates with me. He said, “You, Lord, are all I have, and you give me all I need; my future is in your hands” (GNT). You and I can spend a lifetime trying to plan our future and build the life we want, but we will never be satisfied until we give our future to God. He has a master plan for each of our lives and desires that we give Him the reigns of our future. It’s up to us to surrender our will to His. I can tell you from personal experience that the life He wants for you is far greater than anything you can imagine or build yourself.
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There are some lyrics to a song we sing at church that keep burning inside me. They say, “Set a fire down in my soul that I can’t contain and I can’t control. I want more of you, God.” We had sang that song at church many times before, but on a balcony in Haiti, it became my prayer. As we were having a time of worship in Gonaives, we sang that song and I started listening to the words. I began to internalize what they meant. I began to sing the song with more of a passion than a compulsion.
What does that look like to have a fire set in your soul? What does that feel like to have it burn without bring able to control it? What would happen to me if I truly wanted more of God in my life? Do I really, truly want that and what is the cost? We sing songs and read scriptures a lot without giving much thought to the words we are saying or reading. We rarely dig down deep and plant those words in our heart and mind.
God gives Himself to us to the extent that we allow room for Him. Too many Christians are like the inn keeper in Bethlehem. They have no room for Him, but they want Him, so they put Him in the stable of their lives. He doesn’t just want to be in your stable. He wants the entire inn of your life. He wants to come into every room you have locked up. He wants to fill you up, but you have to make room which means you have to get rid of things.
For me, I want more of Him than I have today. I want to give Him the keys to my inn. I want to kick out the guests of sin, control, security, lack of faith and fear. I want to be like John The Baptist in john 3:30 and say, “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less” (NLT). The only way for that to happen is to set a Holy Fire within that gets rid of selfish desires so I can embrace all He has for me.
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