17 December, 2013

Who's really driving?

I decided at the ripe old age of 26 to finally learn how to drive. The plan was initially met with some resistance by my well-meaning husband who is all too familiar with my total lack of any sense of direction and my pathetic visual motor skills - yes, I'm 'differently abled' that way. But "women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.” (Robert A. Heinlein)

And so I signed up for a two week course with the best driving school in the neighbourhood. On day one, with a really good teacher on my left and a nervous husband sitting at the back, I learnt the "ABC" of driving a car - about the accelerator, the brake and the clutch. I learnt how to get the car moving and how to keep it going. When we reached a bend, all I had to do was steer the wheel accordingly and the car would turn and change its course - pretty simple! Except that it was not. It was on the third day, while I smoothly turned the car around a bend and smiled gleefully at my instructor, when he told me that now I would also need to press down the clutch slightly whenever the car needs to take a turn.

“But I haven’t been pushing the clutch while I took all those turns the last two days – the car turned just fine.” I can never really accept change without figuring out all the whys and hows. 

“That’s because I have been pressing the clutch while you were making those turns. I didn’t want to flood you with too much information at once,” explained my instructor. He had been using his extra set of foot controls that are usually present in all driving school cars. And I realised that I had not been really driving all this while. My instructor could hit the brake or speed up or steer the wheel whenever he felt I could not manage on my own.

That day as my husband and I drove to work and as I mulled over the morning driving lesson, I realised that our life on earth too, is not fully in our control. We might gloat at our achievements and strut around with pride, not knowing that God is the real driver, who has been keeping us safe when we were almost going to ram into a streetlight or run off a cliff plunging into a valley of darkness. 

Those among us old enough to have experienced life’s highs and lows would be familiar with instances where we’ve often been on the brink of falling into the depths of despair, but have been miraculously pulled back to safety. It would be foolish to think that we recovered only because “we’ve always had our life in control – we know when to stop.” What many of us don’t realise is that God has an extra set of foot controls to guide the car and a ready, steady hand that reaches out to steer the wheel to safety.

My driving lessons continued quite successfully (I thought!) and after two weeks of patient teaching by my instructor, I was confident that I’d be driving to work in a few weeks. My husband, who is practical and blessed with common sense, gently reminded me that I should be practising on our own car for a while before I decide to cut my life short.

Early morning, next day, I started our car, easing slowly down the road beaming confidently at the husband who had turned green around the gills out of nervousness. My confidence, however, vanished when I reached the busiest crossroads of our neighbourhood and saw a tractor gunning down towards me from my right and a rickshaw approaching us from the left. I turned frantically towards the husband, expecting him to use his set of clutch-brake-accelerator and to get us out of there and realised with mounting panic that our car didn’t come with an extra set of controls! The husband was already gesticulating wildly asking me to hit the brakes. I did what I could do best. I froze. After somehow bringing the car to a halt, we duly exchanged seats and he drove me to an isolated stretch of road where I’m polishing my driving skills these days.

Nobody, not even my husband could replace the assurance and confidence I got from the presence of my instructor and that extra set of controls he had. We often end up placing our confidence on people around us, not realising that they are sometimes as helpless as we are in difficult situations. 

Nobody, however close and beloved they are, can replace the comforting presence of Jesus. He knows what He is doing. He’s always got things in control and He will help us steer our life in the right direction. Leading a messianic life, a life in Christ, is as simple as this – realising who’s really driving and letting Him guide us – when we’re at crossroads, stuck in a jam or even cruising smoothly down the road. 

P.S: I have not even managed to drive down to church, forget driving to work. Pray for me!