Be still my soul, the Lord is on your side, bear patiently, the cross of grief and pain ….. In the morning when I rise, in the morning when I rise, in the morning when I rise, give me Jesus. Hovering between sleep and the first dawn of day, those songs made paths through my memory. To understand it would require being my passenger last night as I left shopping to drive home. It wasn’t the blowing wind or icy roads that caused my car to rebel against the steering wheel and meander outside the pattern of my control. The snow was only part of the problem, the other was a defect somewhere between the wheels underneath and the steering wheel in my hands. Under 18 miles per hour, was a justifiable speed and the car stayed within tolerance, but at 20 it was out of control. I pulled into a parking lot and waited to be rescued by my husband Tim, and son Jeremy. The story continues today, but when I woke up with those songs flowing through me, I realized this is not the end of the lesson.
This wasn’t a lesson in why I shouldn’t be shopping or overspending or out joy riding in less than congenial weather. God and I had that discussion as I held the steering wheel with white-knuckle force, coaxing and begging the car to stay in the lane where I directed it. “God, if you just get me home safely, I promise I’ll never drive again.” Silence. “OK, how about this, God? I will stay home and not go anywhere, ever.” Chuckle. “Seriously, God. Do you see me here? I’m scared to death and you’re not helping.” Ponder. “OK, God, just get us all home safely. That’s all I want. Nothing more – just keep me on track and get us home safe.” Agreement.
Be still my soul, the Lord is on your side. Life is like that car last night. There was a track, a purpose, and when I concentrated with laser focus and no excessive speed I stayed within tolerance without straying. How often have I lost focus and strayed outside the path I know was chosen for me. I didn’t hear an audible voice of God, like in Isaiah 30:21 “You will hear a word spoken behind you, saying, “This is the correct way, walk in it,” whether you are heading to the right or the left.” But similar to those interludes between appeals to God while braving the drive last night, I knew God pondered my choices. Instead of getting ahead of God and slipping outside His boundaries, I should have acknowledged the truth of 2 Samuel 22:31 “As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless;…” and repeated for us slow [rebellious] learners In Psalm 18:30 “…he shields all who take refuge in him.”
I will always have a tendency to bargain with God. “Please do this, God. It would get me out of this situation.” Remember this? I had it written for your benefit in Psalm 130:5 “I rely on the Lord, I rely on him with my whole being; I wait for his assuring word.” How about you rely on Me this time?
It doesn’t end. Whether bargaining, arguing, or leveraging, I’m guilty of trying to help God out – kind of like suggestive selling. “God, please show me your path, but I think I can figure out the first part, I just need you there to make it happen.” God assures me that he’s listening but in Proverbs 3:1-3 he reminds me “Do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart…they will bring you peace and prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you…”. My favorite part of any day is learning something new. Why doesn’t that translate to absorbing the scriptures like Isaiah 48:17 where God clearly says “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”
Last night, I didn’t learn that cars break down, that they must be kept under control or they wander aimlessly, or even that there are times when promises I make to God are not worthy of an answer, but instead are based on my circumstances at the time. God didn’t want me to promise to never drive again. What he wanted was for me to realize that “In the morning when I rise, when I work throughout the day, the world is fast asleep, He wants me to say “Give me Jesus.” Psalm 31:24 “Be strong and confident, all you who wait on the Lord!” That’s all he wants of me – be strong, be confident, and wait on him.
My sincerest of prayers were answered. My son arrived home safely, we arrived home safely. Only one frustrated driver sped by me, his horn futility blowing. The car is now waiting for a tow truck, eventually to be repaired and back on the road. Like us, right? Here’s the path, let’s get on it. Psalm 59:16: “I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.”