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Right Life, Wrong Driver

May 14, 2018 06:43AM ● By Bonnie Lyn Smith

It was an errand morning. I rushed to the florist—I was thinking I was ridiculously late in ordering a wrist corsage for my son’s prom guest, but apparently I was not. As I started to ask my question about choosing corsage flowers, the less-than-patient business owner brusquely snapped at me that there is a sign on the door, so I should already know they are taking prom orders the Monday before prom. 

Well, okay, then. Not sure she'll get my order, but now I have the info. 

I knew I had to pick up snacks for the marching band students performing in the Apple Blossom Parade this weekend, buy some gift cards, and belatedly mail the rest of the Mother’s Day cards. Hmmm. I know my mind was all over the place trying to keep all those errands straight and route my driving to be the most efficient. 

And that’s how I ended up at the post office getting into the wrong sedan, which I thought I had unlocked—but it was apparently already open. 

It was not in any way the same make or model as my own car. Not the same year. Maybe close in color. That’s about it.

And then the horror came over me as I was about to start someone else’s car (or so I thought—I never got that far): 

What is happening to me? I’ve stopped being careful. I now look like I am stealing someone’s car!

Maybe this has happened to you. Or maybe you have tried to open a similar vehicle before but did not get as far as sitting down and putting the key in the ignition. 

Either way, how does it happen? 

I do this in other ways, too. How about you? I often think of myself coasting along, doing pretty satisfactorily as a navigator, but suddenly I realize I am not going in the direction I thought I was. I was headed for that same caution sign that seems to pull me like a magnetic force.

You see, I often forget that it is indeed my life. God made me uniquely me, and only I can live it. But I am not the driver. I only think that I am.

Here is the truth:

Psalm 139:13-14, ESV

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.

God gave me life. I did not meditate myself into existence. He knit every cell of me together in the most secret of places. He was thoughtful and creative in designing each of us. There is no other me or you.

But having a relationship with God means “all in.” It means submission and humility. A teachable heart. Following Jesus translates to a life completely yielded to God’s plans and purposes for us. 

Matthew 16:24-25, ESV

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

We ask Him to steer the ship in order to participate in His Kingdom come to earth.

Proverbs 16:9, ESV

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.

But we get ahead of ourselves, don’t we? We grow impatient. We want control. And we are ridiculously distracted. Squirrel? Entertainment? Retail therapy? Or maybe a problem. 

Very often, struggles get in our way, block our view, and cause blind spots.

That’s exactly why we need Jesus to be in the driver’s seat—always.

When I drive, I end up in four different directions, lose focus, and take on more than I can handle. But when I let Him turn the ignition and put the car in gear, with me in the passenger seat, I experience the most incredible peace and satisfaction. I am riding along in this life with God! Is there anything cooler and more soul-fulfilling than that? 

And the best part? He wants to have us along. 

Here’s the deal, though. We need to be alert while He leads. He wants to teach and guide us. This isn’t a casual chat. This is life instruction! I don’t know about you, but I desperately need His wisdom and discernment in a thousand little and big situations every day. I don’t want to breathe without Him next to me in the driver’s seat. 

Psalm 32:8-11, ESV

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; 
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, 
which must be curbed with bit and bridle, 
or it will not stay near you.

Many are the sorrows of the wicked, 
but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.

Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, 
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

Some days I convince myself I can take the wheel and do this whole thing without His help. 

But, I can’t. And I don’t want to.

I absolutely need His “very present help in trouble.” And always, for that matter.

Psalm 46:1, ESV

To the choirmaster. Of the Sons of Korah. According to Alamoth. A Song. 

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

I am very thankful that the true owner of that other sedan at the post office did not come out and see my embarrassment. How awful had he or she come to the car only to find me trying to drive it! I imagine the reaction would be something along the lines of: “Hey, wrong car! This is not your car!”

And that really translates to: “You are not the driver of this car.” That person would be completely justified. After all, it would be the right car for him or her, but I am the wrong driver.

And that is how life with Christ is. We get in the car, but we need to sit on the passenger side. It’s an amazing journey, but we do not control the pedals, gear shift, steering wheel, or speed. It isn’t easy not to take back what we think should be in our control, but I’m telling you: 

It does not go well when I grab the wheel or slam on the brakes. 

God does not need our help directing, determining the pace, or knowing where the stops are. He can be trusted. After all, He planned it all out ahead of time.

For you ladies, this is not a traditional Mother’s Day column. I know what it’s like to feel out of my league as a mother (and as a woman) for several different reasons. Maybe your own reasons are one or more of the following:

  • You are a single mother with massive overwhelm.
  • You were never a mother, and it still stings.
  • Your children are not making good choices.
  • You are estranged from your children or mother.
  • You were not mothered well or lost a mother too young. 
  • You still want to be a mother, and it has not been fulfilled at this point.
  • You are okay with not being a mother, but you are sick of Mother’s Day columns [smile].

My very best advice is to invite God into the driver’s seat. I can’t promise where He will take you, but I do know He always wants the best for you. 

Yield. Get in the passenger seat. You will grow so much as you watch the Driver. He cares deeply for you in the most raw places of your heart—the areas you feel so depleted and ill-equipped. Let Him fill it. 


Because He wants to.


Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.

She is the author of Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day and the founder and editor-in-chief of Ground Truth Press, a book publishing company.



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