Listen to: Carrie Underwood: "Jesus, Take the Wheel"
Rush hour on the Long Island Expressway (LIE) is your typical bumper to bumper grind. Unhappy motorists inch along, scowl at vehicles that snake in and out of lanes, lay on the horn at the cheeky SUVs that muscle their way ahead of the line, with not even the courtesy of a blinker. I had settled in the far left lane. At the rate I was going, I wouldn’t reach my destination, my class in spiritual direction, for at least 1 ½ hours.
It turns out I didn’t reach it at all.
I accelerated as the car ahead of me moved. Then my car stopped. I mean stopped. No cough, cough, phizzzzzzzzzz. It was “good night, folks,” the curtains were drawn, and a red battery volt light to tell me something very, very wrong had just happened. Fortunately, in heavy rush hour on the LIE, ten miles an hour is speeding. So I wasn’t in immediate danger of being hit. However, the pileup effect was instantaneous. A serenade of horns and disgruntled faces greeted me as I sat there, stuck in the far left lane, blocking traffic.
As I called 911, a police cruiser came from behind. The policeman gave me instructions. “Put car in neutral.” OK. Next he gave a big push. Over his bullhorn, instructions were repeated, “Now steer to the right!”
Steer to the right?
You mean go right into all that moving traffic?
Trust they will stop in time so I can make it to the right shoulder?
However, I had no choice. I had to trust.
So I crossed three lanes of flowing traffic and watch helplessly as cars veered helter-skelter. Time slowed down. I could see every startled and panicked face that swerved out of my way. Yet I made it finally to the shoulder and to safety. If I weren’t so terrified and trembling I would have jumped out and kissed the guardrail. I eventually got towed to my mechanic. Six days later, the car is still at the mechanic. Although I missed my class and it’s been an inconvenience, that is nothing compared to the realization that no one was hurt, there’s no scratch on the car and everyone eventually got home safe and sound that night.
I’ve had a few days to calm down and reflect on what happened. It occurred to me that one time or another we have had or know someone who has had “the stalled in the fast lane” situation. We go happily along juggling five or six projects, existing on emotional steam it seems. Sooner or later something gives. It can be a health problem. An emotional or mental crisis. Maybe a spiritual awakening. Or perhaps something changes at work, or our relationships are responding like they used to. The bottom line is that the electrical wiring which charges our life and gives us purpose and energy gives out. It just stops.
The kicker is, to get to safety we have to cross all that ongoing traffic. There’s no other way to the shoulder. We have to trust that a way will be made.
It’s hard to trust that the cars are going to stop. It’s almost easier to stay stuck in the fast lane, letting cars go around, risking a greater accident. Healing, however, starts when we get that push and we steer the car into the traffic trusting we’ll get to the shoulder in one piece.
It’s called radical trust. God called Abram and Sarai (Gen. 12) out in their old age promising them a child, a land and to make them a nation. God promised to deliver the people of Israel out of slavery (Ex. 3). God promised David a throne and kingdom that would last forever (2 Sam. 7). Responding to God’s call takes trust, reorientation of our lives and time. Plenty of time. This is because our lives need to be rewired to the blessing and hope God wants to place in our hearts.
So where is your “stuck in the fast lane” moment? Do you need help being moved to safety? Do you need help with renewal? How is God rewiring your life so it runs better?
I’ve had time to think. I am definitely recharging my gratitude battery. My prayer hour is slowly getting back in alignment. I see the areas of trust that are lacking. They go straight to Jesus, the Divine Mechanic for help.
So if you get stuck in the fast lane, don’t forget 911. Don’t forget your triple A membership card. Most of all, don’t forget to call on Jesus. My new prayer: “Jesus, take the wheel!”
Prayer: God, “Divine Mechanic, our lives need rewiring. Wire your love to our hearts so your holy energy may flow through us, heal us, change us and charge those who are downtrodden around us. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.”