I wrote this piece sometime in my forties when I was trying to make sense of the chaos surrounding me. I didn’t plan to write it, but once I began it just poured onto the page. When I finished, the last paragraph was not yet written and I didn’t really like the ending. It felt incomplete and, frankly, a little depressing. I decided I needed to write a new ending for the story and for my life. So I added the last paragraph and I can assure you that so far being fifty is fabulous! So if you don’t like the way your story is turning out – then write a new ending!
I decided I needed to write a new ending for the story and for my life.
As a kid, I rode in the backseat of the car. My parents were in the front, and my siblings were beside me. We never wore seatbelts, and yet I felt safe. It didn’t matter too much where we were going, as long as we were together.
Life was fresh and new.
At 18, my dad died. I was in college at the time, so I moved to the driver’s seat in my 20’s. I was on the fast track. God rode in the backseat. Typically, the music was playing loudly, so I couldn’t always hear Him.
Life was great.
In my 30’s, I had children. So the backseat was filled with car seats and diaper bags. I asked God to move up to the passenger’s seat. I needed his guidance more and protection for myself and my family. I had never worked harder yet felt more fulfilled than I had as a wife and mother.
Life was good.
Somewhere around 40, we pulled over at a rest stop. When I returned to the car, God was sitting in the driver’s seat. He asked me to ride in the passenger’s seat. He had some things He wanted to show me; some places He wanted to take me. I was skeptical and struggled to release my grip on the steering wheel.
I’ve had to become comfortable with not knowing the route; seeing things I hadn’t planned on seeing; going places that were not on my map. Not only does He ask me to let go, he urges me to have faith and enjoy the ride.
Life is getting harder.
I notice that friends of mine are also riding in the passenger’s seat. Some are taking great trips, staying at fancy resorts and dining at lavish restaurants. Many others, however, are on a far more difficult road than me. Their journeys are stopping at places like divorce court, the unemployment line, doctors’ offices, hospitals and, for a few, the cemetery.
I’ve come to discover that in many locations there is not a car ride at all. The journey only takes them as far as they can walk, on sidewalks and dirt roads. And yet they walk on, often times without shoes and carrying a heavy load on their back.
And so we journey.
God always offers to provide directions.
As we travel on, I notice that we make frequent stops to help a fellow traveler in need. We change tires, fill empty gas tanks, give life to dead batteries. We even pick up a hitchhiker or two, allowing them to ride along with us until we arrive at their destination and bid them farewell. God always offers to provide directions. Some gladly accept them, while others prefer to continue down their chosen path, certain that they can make it on their own. The need is always great, and despite our fatigue we drive on.
As the miles rush by, I find myself staring out the window reflecting on the journey on which God is taking me. It’s not at all what I had envisioned. The roads are bumpier, the hills steeper, and the route more winding. My outdated map had promised smooth highways.
At times, I’ve considered getting out of the car and letting God drive on without me. Surely a train or plane could get me to my destination faster and without all the hassles.
But something keeps me riding in the passenger’s seat of the car. It’s my desire to know if I can say, “Yes,” as Mary did. It’s wondering if, “Not my will but yours,” are words I can speak as did Jesus. It’s wanting to believe in the promise. It’s aching for the peace and joy that can only come from following Christ.
I have a vision of me in my 50’s. I’m still riding shotgun. But this time we’re in a convertible with the top down, and the wind is blowing my hair. My arms are raised high over my head in victory, and we’re laughing. My map and directions are crumpled at my feet. And this doesn’t bother me at all. Life is everlasting!
With Love, Lis