Does Jesus Take the Wheel?
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Acts 1:6
In treatment for chemical dependency, I decided that I was through with following my way. My way had proven disastrous and I realized that for the rest of my life, I needed to follow God. While in treatment, this seemed pretty straightforward. Like a monk in a monastery, I had very few worldly distractions and spent hours a day working on my faith and recovery. Then, I got out – and began dealing with real life.
I found that every day, I got up and pointed my life at God. At 6AM, I asked him to take the wheel. By 9AM though, I found that I was always back in control. I intended to follow the right path, but in simply getting out of bed to face the challenges of the real world, I went right back to my selfish, resentful, prideful, addictive behaviors. I didn’t go back to using drugs, but I always returned to my defective way of doing things. I still struggle with my way.
The disciples, it seems, had a somewhat similar experience with following Christ. Though they had spent years with him, they still wanted to follow their own way. Hoping from the beginning that Jesus would set up an earthly, political kingdom to overthrow the Romans, they had a hard time letting go of that dream. In today’s passage, when reunited with him after his resurrection, they once again asked, “Is it finally time? Are you going to become king now? (my paraphrase)” Jesus’ kingdom though, was not of this world, so once again, he had to redirect the disciples to follow his plans and not their own.
Many of us can identify with this. We want to follow the right path, but we just keep going our way. A lot of our frustration stems from the flawed idea that we make a once-and-done decision. We think we turn the keys over to God, and he drives the car from then on, right? That’s now how the Christian life works though. God doesn’t make us robots. He asks for our daily, voluntary obedience. He lets us drive, and he asks that we listen to his direction. Every day, it’s our choice to follow or not. We can go our way, finding misery, or follow God’s way, finding life, joy, and peace.