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Who’s in the Driver’s Seat?

August 05, 2019

A five-year-old’s “driving” adventure teaches a lesson in how to handle life’s challenges.

By Ellen Morgan

A

t an amusement park not long ago, my granddaughter was thrilled when she had the opportunity to drive a small two-seater car. Though the vehicle was lightweight and perhaps only five feet wide by eight feet long, it was a car with those all-important features: a gas pedal, brake, and steering wheel!  When she reached the front of the line, she impatiently waited for the previous crew to disembark so she could take possession of the vehicle. At last the time came, and she climbed behind the wheel. Finally, now that she was five years old, she had arrived. Val was driving!

My son-in-law’s father was the accompanying adult, and of course sat on the passenger side. They took off at a moderate speed around the track, and soon were approaching curves. Grandpa thought it looked as though she might need a guiding hand, so he extended his to assist with the turn. Quickly she waved him off, saying confidently, “I’ve got this!” This pattern continued as they arrived at subsequent bends in the road. It was always, “I’ve got this!” Regardless of the direction they turned, it was difficult for Grandpa to suppress the self-preserving tendency to grab the wheel. The little cars were on a rail, and it took a second before the under-car guides bumped against the rail, forcing the car to follow the curve. Of course, being quite amused by the independent pint-sized girl, sometimes he found it satisfying to get her once again to respond so positively, “I’ve got this!”

Just outside the exit, one could create a “driver’s license” in a booth. When the small plastic card complete with her picture was in hand, Val became lost in thought, perhaps envisioning the vistas newly opened before her. She would not release her grip on the license—it wasn’t until after she fell asleep that her grandpa rescued it from her hand.

My granddaughter was so eager to take control, and I recognize that inclination in myself at times, too.

My granddaughter was so eager to take control, and I recognize that inclination in myself at times, too. As a little girl, I recall looking forward to reaching the next level, whatever the subject. Growing tall enough to see the top of my head in the mirrored cabinet in the bathroom was very satisfying. I thoroughly enjoyed getting a grip on new challenges, such as riding a bicycle or learning how to drive the garden tractor. And like Val, obtaining my driver’s license gave me a newfound sense of freedom. It was nice to be able to handle some situations independently.

This tendency toward independence can carry over into adult life. It is all too easy to think, “I’ve got this!” and forge ahead full-speed.  But what if there is no crystal clear direction? 

Let’s look at a few scenarios.

  • Graduating from high school is an exhilarating step. Finally you are a real adult!  Surely, now that all your decisions are your own, life will be very enjoyable. But you face so many decisions: Where should I work?  How will I commute? Which classes shall I take? What are my housing options?
  • After your spouse passes on to Heaven leaving you alone, everything is different. No longer are there two of you to share the everyday load. Every decision becomes a little more difficult since they are all your own. What will you do with the rest of your life?
  • Things are going along fine until one visit to the doctor confirms that the illness affecting your family member has the scary word “cancer” as part of its name. Will there be a good outcome to this crisis?
  • You are aging, as we all do, but still doing pretty good. Then, while attempting to clean windows, you fall. The ambulance takes you to a hospital where a broken hip is diagnosed. It looks like living in the same house with two levels and many steps is no longer practical. What’s next?
  • You have a decent-paying job and the bills are being paid—there’s even a little bit to spare. Then one morning at work you learn that the company is closing. Your next paycheck may or may not show up. How will you pay the bills?

How do we handle these situations? “I’ve got this” is definitely inadequate. We can be grateful that a better option is available. We might call it the “You’ve got this” approach.

If we haven’t already done so, this is the time to bring our circumstances with all of the uncertainties to the Lord, asking for guidance. Our prayer might sound something like, “Dear Heavenly Father, I bring my situation to You because I cannot do this alone. I trust You. You created the world and all that is in it. You know the end from the beginning. You see every aspect of my problem. I know You’ve got this.”

On the other hand, our prayer might sound more like, “Jesus! Help me!” as mine did when my car sped down into a ditch of deep snow between two portions of the highway. On that occasion, there were several perplexing complications: it was a dark winter evening, I wasn’t dressed for a snow adventure, it was a rural area, I had no cell phone and little money, and I had a passenger—a little girl. Pushing my car door against the snow, I made an opening wide enough to slide out and survey my predicament. The car was truly stuck. Silently, I sent up an SOS to God, knowing it would be impossible for me to get the car out on my own. The snow in front of my car was deeper than the car’s hood, and backing out would be uphill on snowy grass, even if I could clear away all of that snow.

By the time I was able to wade to the rear of the car, a large truck was pulling up. My little passenger and I were alone, so we were vulnerable. But the friendly man who greeted me asked if I could use some help to get my car out. Gratefully, I accepted, observing that his truck was a large tow truck. He fastened his winch to the rear of my buried car, and within five minutes, my snowy but undamaged car was back on the highway, ready to continue. No one could have orchestrated the timing of that rescue any better—it was God’s design. He really did have this! When I asked the tow truck driver how much he charged for his wonderful service, he said, “Nothing. I was just on my way home.” My guardian angel that night showed up as a tow truck driver. After a further hour of driving, I arrived at my parents’ home. We looked under the hood of my car, and snow was packed tightly around the engine. Incredibly, my journey was slowed less than ten minutes total.

When our first daughter was diagnosed with leukemia, my husband and I were unprepared for such devastating news. As we walked the path of pain, doctor appointments, treatments, and hospital stays with her, Jesus walked alongside us.

When we need comfort in time of sorrow, He is the God of all comfort: “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3). When our first daughter was diagnosed with leukemia, my husband and I were unprepared for such devastating news. As we walked the path of pain, doctor appointments, treatments, and hospital stays with her, Jesus walked alongside us. He knew exactly how to help us as we faced each crisis. He comforted us every step of the way, and provided long-term help—in addition to staying by our side, He had planned that our second daughter would be born two months prior to Monica’s entrance into Heaven. God knew the end from the beginning. There was no way to foresee how helpful our new little addition was going to be, but His plan was in place even before we knew Monica was sick. After the funeral, on mornings when I didn’t really feel like getting out of bed, the baby needed attention—she reminded us there was still life to live.

God comforted us during that time, and more than that, He did something we thought was impossible: He healed our hearts. Yes, we remember the sorrow, but we are no longer devastated by it. Perhaps you are engulfed by sorrow and can’t see any hope in the future; you can turn to Jesus.

God solves problems in ways we never could devise. He has all wisdom, and His power is limitless, so arranging a few details is nothing to Him. If we have time for coherent thought during a crisis, we may quote a promise from the Bible such as Proverbs 18:10, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe,” or Psalm 61:3, “Thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.” He will not let us down.

Life will bring both wonderful and perplexing circumstances—we have no way to predict the timing of these events. Thankfully, we can obtain help from God, whispering, “You’ve got this.”

About the author

Ellen Morgan works at the Apostolic Faith headquarters office and attends the church in Portland, Oregon.