A couple of weeks ago Dale preached a sermon about letting go the wheel of your life and giving it over to Jesus. It evoked a memory from my late teens when I was working at a radio station in Tasmania. I had just finished the late shift youth show, and I was packing up to go home when I heard a song. Believe it or not, the song was called ‘Jesus Take the Wheel’! I had never heard it before, so I thought it must have been a really old song. My teen brain, at that time, which was mostly comprised of Heavy Metal (in terms of my music taste) thought it was a strange and quirky song. I didn’t really give it much thought at the time – I just wondered why anyone would want to listen to any country song, let alone this country song. So I was surprised when Dale’s sermon brought this really obscure life moment back to my mind.
In my quiet time today, I read John 1:9 which refers to Jesus as ‘The true light that gives light to every person.’ And it got me thinking, “What does it take to stop white-knuckling the steering wheel?”
Just in case we hadn’t already noticed, our recent study of Lamentations made it clear that life isn’t always rosy! And the default position, when life feels like it’s out of our control, is to hold on tighter – to grip onto the known in our life and try to steer things back on track. The problem is that we tend to hold onto the very things that got us there in the first place. So, we end up white-knuckling the problem itself. In fairness, quite often this is our best attempt at dealing with a sometimes-cruel world that batters us around.
So, if we are holding on for dear life, why would we ever let go? Especially if the semi’s lights are in our face? I think, quite simply, it’s because death isn’t the worst possible outcome. Dying to one’s old self is one of the most deeply rooted concepts in the Bible – dying to those things that keep us out of God’s light.
I’ve had to do this myself, as my ‘old self’ was very introverted. It really hit me when a person, who had known me years ago, recently commented, “I can’t believe you are out doing all of this, helping people, and teaching. I remember that when you were younger I thought you were a hermit.” I’m still a pretty introverted person but I had to die to that part of myself – I had to take my hands off the wheel, otherwise it would have prevented me from living out the story that God had for me.
It took a light, a small light, an unwavering light, to guide me there. It wasn’t a spontaneous miracle. It took years. It took hundreds of attempts. However, I slowly peeled my hands off the steering wheel, one finger at a time, then I took a deep breath and said, “Ok God, if this is what you want me to do, I’ll have a go.”
So letting go … lamenting and white-knuckling … the small still light … the guide … and the openness to try. I often wonder what my life would have been like if I hadn’t peeled my fingers off the wheel, and the life I imagine isn’t one I would be happy with at all.