Have you ever been riding in the passenger seat of a car, when the driver doesn’t brake as early as you like? You grab the door handle, and press your foot hard to the floor as if there were some imaginary brake on the passenger side? My wife does this to me often when I’m driving. I apparently don’t brake to her liking. We won’t discuss if I secretly brake on the passenger side when she’s driving!
This phenomenon reminds me of Step 1 of the 12 Steps:
Step 1: We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable.
Living with an addiction, or just living as a sinner far from God (that describes every one of us at some point in our lives), is pretty close to this metaphor. As the car of our lives doesn’t slow down when it should, or veers off the road toward the ditch, we discover the unmanageability of our way of living. We find we cannot keep this up, and we are headed for destruction. Worse, we discover to our terror that we are incapable of wresting the wheel away from our sinful nature. Cruise control was engaged, and we are unable to disengage it.
Every time we chose our sin, every time we escaped into our fantasy, every time we self-medicated through porn, sex, drugs, alcohol, raging tantrums, even religious activity, we were taking the passenger seat. We were, in effect, saying, “Sin, take the wheel.” As we do this over and over again, we lose all control over our lives. We are relegated to mashing the floorboard of the passenger seat, powerless to slow the car or steer it in a different direction.
This is the essence of Step 1. We admit we are powerless to stop the car. Furthermore, we admit that we cannot manage the chaos – we our not in control.
But, there is good news. Really, really good news! Once we admit our powerlessness, as scary as that is, we can then look to a Power greater than ourselves.
Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
(Without writing a book here – let’s just say that honestly thinking I can stop a car and successfully drive it from the passenger seat is simply insane. Moving right along…)
What choice do we have? We are powerless. We cannot control and manage the chaos in our lives. I can put my head between my legs, grab my ankles, and kiss my life goodbye (sadly, this is how many respond), or I can come to the realization that God can, and even wants to take control of this situation. There is hope!
This is where things really get exciting!
Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him to be.
This is where the famous Carrie Underwood country song starts to play in the background.
Jesus take the wheel
Take it from my hands
Cause I can’t do this on my own
I’m letting go
So give me one more chance
Save me from this road I’m on
Jesus take the wheel
Here’s the reality – the one driving the car was really us all along. It wasn’t some abstract addiction – it was us. The wheel is in our hands. Taking the passenger seat really isn’t an option. The real problem is, we don’t know how to drive. Heck, we can’t even reach the pedals. We’re just little kids trying to do grown up things. We are people trying to play God. No wonder we can’t stop! An emotional two-year-old is behind the wheel of my two-ton car!
God is the one who gave us this life, and he’s the one who knows how it is to be lived. He built it. He purposed it. He knows how to drive this thing. He has more than enough power to stop the car and turn it wherever it needs to go. In fact, he has an awesome destination already in mind. Restoration to sanity looks like making a very simple decision – Jesus take the wheel!!!