Who’s driving this car? by Charlie Wear

Carnival Cars

Who's driving?

I have a long-time friend and business associate who is a follower of eastern religion. I think he may be a buddhist, but I am not sure. He likes to compare the human ability to control one’s own destiny to the ability that drivers at the Disneyland attraction, Autopia, have to control the direction and length of their drive. We all know that the steering wheels of the Autopia vehicles are not connected to any steering mechanism and that the vehicles travel on a predetermined path guided by a rail constructed by the attraction designers.

I’ve lived long enough to understand the truth of this metaphor. Putting it in the simplest terms, my life hasn’t turned out the way I expected it to. When I reflect on the twists and turns and the ups and downs of my roller coaster ride, I can see that what seems to be serendipity and chance have been the main players explaining how I have arrived at my current way-station. This explains why I have abandoned any model of church life that involves the word “driven.” Baseball diamond illustrations and membership covenants are no longer a part of my thinking.

Although I have committed to following Jesus, discovered more about my spiritual gifts and talents than anyone would want to know, served faithfully in several ministry positions and been on mission for many years, I have not experienced a straight-line sense of progress. While many have been playing baseball I seem to have been caught in some sort of cross between badminton and soccer where every once in a while I get hit with a racket or kicked in the head!

In the few years when I pastored a Vineyard church a worship song with a catchy tune became a favorite in our congregation, it’s lyrics:

You are my shepherd
I have no needs
You lead by peaceful streams
And You refresh my life

You hold my hand
And You guide my steps
I could walk through the valley of death
And I won’t be afraid

Because You are in control
You are in control

You cause everything to work together
You truly have a sovereign plan
And You know who I am
And You made who I am
And You love who I am

Because You are in control
You are in control

To be fair, even though I sang the song with gusto, and it certainly seems Biblical, it sure can seem at times that if God is control, he sure is jerking me around a lot! I suppose that more than anything, this song is a prayer and a petition. We are afraid and at times feel very needy and out of control. Yet we pray for peace, contentment and a sense of divine guidance.

Around that same time I heard about the bus. You know, the one you can hop on if you want to go where the a particular church or denomination is going. I guess that bus turned out to have a lot of stops where pastors and churches and members who had signed up either got off the bus or were “gently” escorted.

The classic film, Forest Gump, poses the question with subtle nuance: Is life the result of destiny or serendipity? At the end of the film, as the feather floats up from the childhood book where it has remained for oh so many years the viewer is left to ponder the answer.

I know I love the illusion of control, thinking my hands are on the steering wheel of my life. Each year when I make a very short list of resolutions I exhibit my love for this idea by setting those goals. At the end of the year I can look back and realize that twists and turns and life’s ups and downs may have had more to do with what happened than my goals and aspirations.

This year I’ve decided to try to do more and more of the things that I really love doing. I am going to stop concerning myself quite so much with where I am going and sit back and enjoy the ride. I’ll let you know how that works out for me! :)

Charlie Wear is the publisher of Next-Wave. He and his wife Loretta and son Benjamin live in Moreno Valley, CA.

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