Take the Wheel

The post was published as a column in the St. Michael Catholic Church bulletin for Sunday, April 25.

I have a bone to pick with Fr. Mike Schmitz.

Before you send a message up to Duluth to tell him I’m calling him out, let me explain: Several years ago, I shared a wonderful video of his with the parents in our LIFT classes, entitled “Heaven: You’re Not Good Enough (and Why That’s Okay).”

It’s a great video—Google it!—but in the final minute, he says something that has haunted me ever since: “I’m not good enough to go to the Olympics, and I’m not good enough to go to heaven, but any one of us can surrender.”

Any one of us can surrender. He says it, just like that.

Have you ever tried? I have. I can say the words and think the thoughts, but when it comes to actually letting go and letting God, I can’t unclench my fists.

Any one of can surrender, he says. Sure…but how?

Most of us have heard the phrase, “Jesus take the wheel.” It’s another old saw that we often say and mean in one way, before learning that the Lord means in another. When we say “Jesus, take the wheel,” I think most of us imagine God as our co-pilot—we know where we’re headed, so we let the Lord steer while we get some shut-eye or crack open a Coke.

But in prayer the other day, I saw the situation differently. I saw myself in Rosa, my rusty old ’66 Ford pickup—three-on-the-tree and no power steering—cruising along at a pretty good clip. And then Jesus took the wheel. As in, I looked down to see a bare steel shaft and spline sticking out of the steering column. No control. Nothing to grab onto, even to pretend to steer. My heart leapt into my throat as I began to panic.

But you know what? Rosa just kept cruising along, steady as she goes.

This spring has been one thing after another for me and my family—some good, some bad, and, taken altogether, more than I can manage on my own. I can pretend to be large and in charge, grab another cup of coffee and white-knuckle it until I’m exhausted, or I can let Jesus take the wheel—even if He tosses it out the window.

At least then I’ll know Who is in control, and (praise God) who is not!

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