I drive around town with a highly vocal, super-opinionated back seat driver.
He is two.
From his car seat, he tries to dictate our destination. He points his finger and says, “This way!!!” when he doesn’t want to go home and would rather head back into town.
He shouts, “Turn! Go library!” and then yells “Go back!!!” when we drive right past it instead.
He screams, “Play on the slide!” when we pass the church’s playground.
He wants, “Chicken nuggets” instead of a shopping trip to the grocery store.
More than anything else, he doesn’t want me to pull into the ballet studio parking lot and drop one of his sisters off for dance class. That just ruins his day.
He is a vocal little commandant, asserting his will in matters of our schedule and destination.
He is determined, loud, relentless, and emotional.
He is also not in control.
Maybe that’s the lesson for this little two-year-old power house. After all, he can’t spend his whole life hopping from chicken nuggets to the playground to the library and back again.
Sometimes he’ll need to go grocery shopping or visit the bank or post office and then drive on home for naptime.
Sometimes he’ll have to go where he doesn’t want to go. Sometimes he won’t get to go where he wants to go.
Because I’m the one in control.
And that’s what hits me as I ignored the protests of my toddler and completed my errands this morning; no one likes to lose control.
His tantrum isn’t his alone. Sometimes I want to scream and point and ask God to “go back” or “turn.”
I want the map and the itinerary.
I want the ‘begin construction’ date, the full route of the detour, and the precise moment when construction will end so I can be on my way.
I can be determined, loud, relentless and emotional.
And I’m also not in control.
Sure, I’d love it if life was all about chicken nuggets, trips to the library and play time on the playground of life, but God directs my path to what is necessary and good and true and ultimately for my good and His glory.
This is the hard trust, not just trusting God to give me what I want or what I think I need, but trusting Him in the invisible, trusting Him when He turns me the other way, trusting Him when I don’t know where we’re going and I don’t know when we’re going to get there.
Yet, here’s what’s true about me as I drive my son around town.
Since he’s only two years old, he’s forced to be buckled into the car seat and dragged along for the ride. It’s not fun or exciting to be held captive and endure long grocery shopping trips or endless carpools back and forth to ballet.
I understand that. I have compassion for him. I mind his tantrums, but I don’t mind his input.
I love him and I do care about journeys that weary him and how hard it is to be a tagalong to your mom’s agenda for your day.
So, I think of my own back seat driver ways.
How maybe I’m always asking God, “Are we there yet?”
How I really want to hold the map and tell him where I’d like to go.
Yet, despite all of that, he doesn’t kick me out of the minivan.
He might mind my tantrums, but I don’t think He minds my honest input. He has compassion for all my fears and how small I feel when I don’t know where we’re going.
Where God leads me, He goes with me. Where He leads me, He leads me as gently as I will allow Him.
Where He leads me, He leads me with compassion and sweet affection and deep, enduring, unfailing love.
Deut. 31:8 says:
It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed (ESV).
I am reminded that our omnipresent God can be both ahead of me and right beside me.
And suddenly this journey feels less like captivity and more like relationship.
Yes, God has been before me. He knows the precise path that I take. He knows the number of my days and the u-turns, detours, and obstacles I’ll face along the way.
I can trust Him to lead.
He doesn’t just know the path, though, He also knows me.
And while He’s ahead of me, He’s also with me, never leaving or abandoning me (even if He has to tell this back-seat driver I can’t hold the map every once in a while).