Summary: Who is in charge, us or God?
When I was a teenager the Explorer Scouts of the Sam Houston Area Council joined forces with the Sports Car Club of America to put on a youth road rally. Please understand this was not a race, it was quite the contrary. One of their primary goals every year was to encourage safe driving. The objective in these road rallies was to finish the closest to the correct time it would take to drive the course, following a very specific set of instructions. Generally the course was somewhere between one hundred fifty and two hundred miles long. There were checkpoints all along the way and each team received penalty points for the number of seconds that they were too fast or too slow arriving at the checkpoint. It was always a lot of fun.
Each car or team consisted of two people. One was the driver and one was the navigator. The drivers in these events had to be licensed drivers that were registered Explorer Scouts. The navigator only had to be a member of an Explorer Post.
When the rally starts the navigator reads the instructions aloud to the driver. The driver follows them. For example if we were in a road rally and going to Lakeview instructions might say something like "N. on U.S. 287." "At Elkhart city limit change average speed to 38." "Left at traffic light." "At Elkhart city limit change average speed to 62." "Right at Lakeview." Most of the time the instructions are more complicated that that. They often use this cryptic code the navigator has to decipher. The navigator is responsible for giving good directions. Both watch for clues and landmarks along the way. The driver is responsible for operating the car safely and following instructions. Together they make up a team.
When we watch an auto race on television from Indy or NASCAR, generally we only hear the name of the driver. Occasionally we may hear the name of the crew chief or some other crew member, but mostly it is the driver. In road rally, rare is the time you hear one name mentioned without the other.
I have been thinking about those days some this week. They, in turn, helped bring to my mind an old bumper sticker. I love bumper sticker theology. It may not always be the most sound theological statements, but they generally at least have the ability to make you think. The one in particular that I am thinking about said, "God is my Co-pilot." Do you remember the sticker? It took a great deal of heat. Perhaps that heat is what made a new saying come out. It has been seen more on church signs. Church sign theology is also kind of fun. This one says, "If God is your Co-Pilot, change seats."
As I think about them, I really think I like the original better. I understand what folks are thinking about when they say that God in the Co-Pilot?s seat isn?t actually the best thing. God should be in charge. That is true, but it is also true that God never demands that we give up the day to day operation and running of our life. God gives us the instructions and then expects us to turn the plane, as it were.
That is why, I think I like the analogy of the driver and navigator better to show my relationship with God. God, through His grace and love allows me to sit in the driver?s seat. To a degree, you could say that I am in charge. God is my navigator. God tells me when and where to turn, how fast to go, and what I should watch out for. As for my part, God expects me to remain alert, to watch, to listen, and to follow instructions, His instructions. The choice, however, is always mine. I have the control and the power to say yes or no to God?s instructions.
God doesn?t drive, but God sure tells me how to drive. The question must remain, will I follow those instructions. Instead of saying, "God is my Co-Pilot," we could say, "God is my air traffic controller." God doesn?t play second fiddle to us at any point in time. God is in charge of the entire world and everything around us. God just gives us the ability to make decisions for ourselves.
The pilot or an airplane also must follow directions. Someone sitting in a control tower or other control center watches the radar screen. They are able to see the big picture. They no where all the other planes and other hazards to aircraft are and give the pilot instructions so that he or she can steer around them. Does the pilot have to listen and follow the directions of the air traffic controller? Well, it is a good idea. And, if they want to continue flying the pilot might really want to consider it. But, the pilot does have control of the airplane. The pilot can decide to go against those instructions. When that happens, the pilot usually will have to pay the consequences. So do we.