I have to admit that most of my life, I had been a cruiser. It wasn’t until I held Anne Boleyn’s Bible while filming a documentary in London (full story in my devotional Hope 4 Today: Stay Connected to God in a Distracted Culture) that I realized I had put myself on autopilot. I had kept my life on Christian cruise control. Life had brought a few ups and downs, and I was cruising through it without too much difficulty. Occasionally, I had to put on the brakes to readjust, and there were times when I had to push hard to keep moving forward, but I always kept control and kept my relationship with God consistent.
The problem is God wants more than our control. He wants our heart.
Looking back, I now see how God wanted to give me so much more and know Him more, but my heart had many interests. I had a good life and was blind at knowing that good gets by, but great means contentment even when life has challenges. The cultural definition of happiness is to grow up, get married, have kids, and live a happy life. For the most part, I had accomplished those goals, keeping control during difficult times when the word happiness didn’t define my life completely. We never really are fully happy, are we in this life? We never reach that moment of ‘enough.” My generation’s definition of what a happy life looks like is vastly different from today’s generation of young adults. As I grew older and through some eye-opening events (God does eventually get our attention), I disengaged my cruise control button. I began to make some different choices in how and what I wanted to spend my time on. The deactivation of my control and the activation of letting God into my life in more prominent and more challenging ways has changed my desires enormously. But more importantly, I am more contented and happy than I have ever been. Has my life gotten easier? No. If anything, it has been more challenging and uncertain. They say that “aging is not for the faint of heart, and I am beginning to understand what they mean more and more with each passing year. What changed? My certainty. Has the pandemic put a wrench in your happiness wheel?
COVID-19 has opened the eyes of many cruising Christians.
The pandemic has dislodged, altered and put the brakes on our lives on many levels. Our “pedal to the metal” fast-paced lives came to a screeching halt, and it has given us pause to regroup and examine what brings us happiness. However, it may be the beginning of your greatest joy. God wants to take us on the adventures of our lives and places that we could never dream of going, but it requires that we take Him off cruise control. It requires us to surrender what looks like “the good life” for the uncertainty of His promised great life. It requires that we allow Him to do the gas pedal pushing of our hearts. God still allows us to keep our hands on the steering wheel with Him, but it may mean driving down roads of risk, suffering, sacrifice, and visiting places that initially seem undesirable.
What I didn’t know when at the time that I know now is that each time I trusted God and obediently said, “take control,” Jesus took me to places of immense happiness. I found myself in places I would have never chosen or even wanted to be found in, yet they were places of joy. I had unnatural blindness to the suffering and difficulty I was enduring. It was a contented knowing that He knew how to succeed when I didn’t know how or have all the answers. He took me on adventures of trust and obedience, and they were places of sheer happiness. Not seeing down the road and driving in fog can be stressful. When you work in a self-employed business, there is never a dull moment. Your paycheck depends on your output, and pushing the pedal down hard to keep your car moving forward. So, handing control to God and His ultimate destination for you is easier said than done.
God’s chosen destination is the destination of our ultimate choice.
When we put God’s Kingdom purposes as our destination of choice, he takes us to the places of our heart’s desire (Matthew 6:33). It is the destination we all want to arrive at because it is a destination of joy. In God’s great unknown, we find our true happiness when we let Him navigate. To do that, we opt out of our self-driving car and opt into a God-driven car. It requires reading God’s manual – the Bible and taking our foot off the pedal of our mind and heart. The Bible tells us that “apart from Him we can do nothing.” (John 15:5).
Cruising through a Bible drive-thru won’t ensure confidence because the fear of what’s beyond the horizon will always nudge us to click back into engaging what the world says is the right direction. We end up going down endless roads that lead to unfulfilling destinations. As we struggle on through the challenges of the pandemic, the distractions of a media-driven culture, and the unending disruptive roadblocks of our present culture, let us remind ourselves to take our foot off the pedal of how fast or slow God wants us to go.
Will you disengage your cruise control and let Him take you on the most extraordinary ride of your life?