I find bumper stickers intriguing. I suppose the modern-day equivalent is the social media meme, but there’s something to be said about the permanence of a decal adhered to your vehicle. (Have you ever tried to take one of them off?)

It’s always interesting to me the statements people choose to make to the world that is stuck behind them in traffic. Some boast about the particular demographic represented by the driver… or insult another group. Some proclaim loyalty to a particular company or a brand. Some make clever statements about life. Others communicate passionate affinity to some social justice cause. And then there are the religious declarations.

I’m sure we’ve all seen the ‘God Loves You’ sticker or the ever-popular Christian fish logo. I suppose part of what keeps me from affixing such a message to my vehicle’s back end is the fear of reflecting poorly on my faith. I lack confidence that my driving prowess will never give anyone a reason to shake their fist at my fish.

But there’s one type of religious bumper sticker that drives me nuts. “God is my pilot.” Or, “If God is your co-pilot, you’re in the wrong seat.” If it weren’t for the fact that it would be unloving (and likely to snarl up traffic), I’d love to pull one of these people over and ask them to sit in the passenger seat of their car so that I can see where God-as-Chauffeur would take them.

Many Christians don’t like to take responsibility for their lives. Thinking it to demonstrate submission to God, they attempt to absolve themselves of the obligation to make decisions and move forward with purpose. People who really believe that God makes all of their decisions and does all the driving for them are either living in fear—afraid to make mistakes—or hedging their bets, keeping their options open to defer blame. An impotent existence is pinned on God’s ‘inactivity,’ rather than their own. Poor choices are blamed on having erroneously decided to take action, rather than sitting back and letting God do everything ‘like they were supposed to.’

We’ve been trying to defer responsibility for our lives since the beginning of time. When God asked Eve why she ate forbidden fruit, she essentially said, ‘The Devil made me do it.’ Adam’s excuse was worse. He blamed both Eve AND God. “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

Now before you get too excited and start accusing me of proposing that we make decisions and take action in a God-vacuum, hear me out. I’m not for a moment suggesting that the Lord shouldn’t be involved in our decisions and our activity. In fact, I believe that the truth requires an even greater dependence upon God than the person sitting comfortably (and impotently) in the co-pilot’s chair.

Using the image of the airplane, I think what follows might be a more helpful (though not perfect) way to look at it:

The Father functions as my Control Tower. It is up to me to trust that the Control Tower knows and wants what is best for me, understanding that He sees a far bigger and more complete picture than I ever could. It will only go well for me as I put my faith in Him and follow His instructions. Jesus is my Living Manual. Not only has He provided instruction on how to operate, He has demonstrated how to fly, and stirs me to walk in fruitful obedience. The Holy Spirit resides with me in life’s cockpit as my Instructor and Navigator. He is the one who keeps me connected to both the Control Tower and my Living Manual. He shows me how to walk in obedience to the Control Tower. He points to the Living Manual, and illuminates how to follow His example in my life’s context. As I spend time with Him and listen to His guidance, I remain connected to my Skyward Authority and move toward my destination with accuracy and efficiency. The success of my ‘flight’ through life is incredibly dependent on my connection to God.

But I am the pilot. If I do not take responsibility for walking in obedience to the instructions of my Lord, I will go nowhere. I will sit on the runway and rust, never knowing the exhilaration that comes from soaring toward my destiny. God will not control my life for me. That is my job.

I must engage with Jehovah. I must listen. I must trust. But I must also walk (or should I say ‘fly’) in obedience. I must take ownership of my responsibility, placing MY hands on the controls of my life. In spite of my trepidation, I must release the brakes, open the throttle, accelerate down the runway, and ‘pull up’ into the skies of fruitfulness.

This understanding has transformed my approach to life and revolutionized my Kingdom participation. It doesn’t fit on a bumper sticker, but I’m finally moving toward my destination.

Deuteronomy 5:33; John 14:26; 1 John 2:6; Isaiah 41:13


Tim Knapp is the creator of the Desert of Ziph website.

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