Life’s Backseat Drivers


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“Backseat drivers don’t know the feel of the wheel but they sho’ know how to make a fuss,” so goes Bob Dylan in his song “Let’s Keep It Between Us.”

In a survey conducted by Insurance.Com, “One single distraction inside a car can be more hazardous to drivers than obstacles on the road: backseat drivers.” [1] According to another survey, “The bad habit of passengers causes one in seven accidents or near misses on the road.” [2] Now, why do people become backseat drivers? “People who like to drive rarely enjoy being driven and are often tempted to second-guess the driving of others.” [3]

In a word, control.

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In life as well as on the road, people want to be in control. We want to “drive” our lives. We don’t want others to drive for us. That “others” would even include God. It is always a temptation to second-guess Him. Yes, in principle, we say we believe God should be the One in control. Yet, in practice, we want to take charge. We sure “know how to make a fuss.” We want to do it our way. After all, we reason, it is our life. As William Ernest Henley wrote in his the poem “Invictus,” “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”

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Scripture nowhere says that we are “free” in the sense of being outside of God’s control or of being able to make decisions that are not caused by anything. … Nor does it say we are “free” in the sense of being able to do right on our own apart from God’s power. But we are nonetheless free in the greatest sense that any creature of God could be free—we make willing choices, choices that have real effects. [4] 
But who gave our life to us in the first place, anyway? Paul the apostle declared, “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28a). Though we are still responsible for our choices, God is ultimately in control of our lives. He knows what’s best for us. 

The only difference is that God is never distracted even if we try to take the wheels of our lives. Like the father of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), He may even allow us to take our “share of the property.” We may still suffer the consequences of losing everything dear to us because of our stubbornness. But, when we finally come to our senses and decide to return to Him, we would find the Lord waiting for us and with compassion would run towards us to welcome us back. 

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He would be more than glad to take back the wheels. Let God drive you. Don’t be His backseat driver.

“Let go and let God” Step
In what ways do we try to “backseat drive” our lives? What keeps us from turning over the wheels of our lives to God? What should we do to keep ourselves from being life’s backseat drivers?

NOTE: This is Day Threeof the devotional guide (Volume 1, Issue 6) of our church, Filinvest Community Christian Fellowship, for the message last Sunday, April 5, on Pass It On.” 

[1] Trixie Richter (2013, June 6) “Distracting backseat drivers can be dangerous, survey says,” The Alligator, retrieved from http://www.alligator.org/. 

[2] Ray Masey (2011, June 22), “Back-seat drivers cause one in seven accidents and near misses... but the chances are you're guilty of it too,” The Daily Mail, retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/.

[3] Eric Peters (2008, May 1), “Rules for the backseat driver, “ CNN US Edition, retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/.  

[4] Wayne Gruydem, Systematic Theology (MI: Zondervan, 1994), 331. Emphasis added.

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