Friday, March 30, 2012

If God is Your Co-Pilot, You are in the Wrong Seat

Have you ever been confused about just what God is doing in your life?  I am in the midst of one of those times right now.  Sometimes you have things so planned out in your mind that when things are not going according to that plan, you get stressed.  That stress is really a crisis in faith.  It is not life's circumstances that are bringing you down, but your focus on those circumstances.  I think the problem stems from our desire to try and be one step ahead of God.  We have this need to know the road ahead instead of just trusting the Lord to take us there and through it.  We take to heart those well-meaning but poorly though out bumper stickers that read "God is my co-pilot."  Quite honestly, as someone once said, if God is your co-pilot, you are in the wrong seat.  Sometimes the lesson is not one of doing something but in taking our hands off the wheel and trusting the Lord to steer us through troubled times.  Sometimes the lesson is not learning more about God's plans for your life, but about admitting that you really do not know much of anything.  Sometimes we just need to stop trying to figure God out and just trust that He is God and His promise is to work whatever it is for good. 
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to [His] purpose.  Romans 8:28 NKJV
This passage is a wonderful oft-quoted promise often given in times of trouble.  It is one we should always have on the fronts of our minds because when things come upon us, it is easy to lose our focus.  It is easy to focus on things.  For me those things are 2-year income rules when applying for a mortgage, a job for me or my wife depending on where we will live, two very old cars that need to be replaced soon, someone to purchase our house, and a house to purchase.  Then there are the realtors, mortgage people, buyers, and sellers.  And let us not forget about the everyday things that come into our lives.  Those are many many things.  They are intimidating, they are all out of my control, and I am relying on all of them to somehow work out.  I have had several plans in mind over the past few years, and each time I think I have things figured out, some new twists or turns comes into the road and I am left scratching my head.  I get stressed, confused, downtrodden, and angry.  I question God and His plans and wonder why what I thought was going to work one way is now somehow not working the way I had hoped.  I wonder how this is going to work with that or how I can rearrange my plans to meet the current circumstances and realize I just do not know. 

I hope you noticed my mistake.  I wish I did before I made it or even before I let it all get me down.  Scripture really shines the light on what my error was.
But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid." And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind [was] boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!" And immediately Jesus stretched out [His] hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"   Matthew 14:24-31 NKJV
My mistake was the same of Peter's.  I was not focusing on the One who promises to work all things together for good, I was focusing on all the things.  I was focusing on the waves.  I was worried about my circumstances while not putting my faith in the one who has my situation well in-hand.  How quickly I forgot all that God has done so far.  I forgot that God has led my wife and I out of just about all of our credit card debt. I forgot how God has changed our situation to being able to qualify for a mortgage on both of our incomes instead of just mine.  I forgot how God, by decreasing our debt load, has maintained our budget even as other costs become greater.  I forgot how God has kept our cars running and even if something ever did go wrong, He provided the means to get them repaired.  I forget how God knew this Winter would be mild and that the nightmare of last year would not be a reality this year.  And even God did not keep this Winter mild, I forgot how God brought me through the weather of last year unscathed.  I even forgot that God moved one creditor to forgive a debt worth over $5000.00.  I forgot that despite the winds and the waves, I have been walking on water for a year and so I began to sank. 

And even as I write this post, I can feel those word of my Lord piercing through to the innermost parts of my heart.  "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"  Why was I of little faith?  Why did I doubt?  Why did I allow the waves to rise above my Lord to where they overtook me?  Why did I not keep my eyes on the Lord and know that He is not going to take me so far on this road only to let me sink now?  Why do any of us do that?  I think that Jesus chose this to be part of His word because He knew that we would need this message.  He knew that we would sometimes allow our circumstances to overwhelm us.  He knew we would struggle with our faith.  I made a terrible mistake and it only worked to cause me stress.  It did not make the waves go away, it only made them seem like impossible mountains.  It did not make my life easier, it only made it seem all that much harder.  It did not help me to know what the Lord's plan was for my life, it only made me forget that He was in control and that He had a plan. 

But, as is always the case with our Lord, along with the much-needed admonition comes a message of grace.  When Peter started to sink, he cried out to the Lord and the Lord immediately stretched out His hand and caught him. He did not Peter sink and drown, but caught him and brought him back to safety. Do not lose the importance of that message for your life as I am learning it for mine.  I have had several times during this past year when I began to sink and each time I cried out to the Lord and each time He brought me back to safety.   Each time I have stumbled and fell on this road, the Lord has picked me up and kept me moving forward.  The Lord could just as well as left me to wallow in my own stupidity in forgetting that the Lord can do all things, but that is not who our Lord is. The Lord wants to complete His plan for our lives. The Lord wants to see us finish the course He has us on.  The Lord wants us to get up and is willing to help us up no matter how many times we cry out to Him feeling the sting of our own doubt. 

And so, I am where I have been after each time my faith wavered when the road twisted in an unexpected direction.  I can not say for sure when this road will end or exactly what His plan is and I certainly have no idea how He will get me there.  What I do know, though, is that He does have a plan and that He will get me there.  Jesus is not my co-pilot.  I am not leading Him and only expecting Him to do what I ask.  I am not even His co-pilot.  He does not need one and I do not even the ability to put my hand at the controls.  I am just a servant at the ready to head in whatever direction He takes me.  I know He is taking me somewhere and I know we will arrive on time, which is His time and not my own time.  I know we will arrive at the right destination, which is not necessarily where I think it should be.  I know that nothing in this world will stop us from getting there because no matter how large the waves seem to me, they are all subject to His authority.  Let that be a lesson for your own life.  We will all face trials and tribulations and many times the Lord will take us in a way we were never expecting.  No matter how many things are coming at you, no matter how large the waves seem to be getting, no matter how hopeless you think the situation may be, never lose sight of the Lord and He will guide you through.  Nothing is impossible for Him, and when He has called you, nothing is impossible for you. 
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:13 NKJV

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