You’ve probably seen those clever bumper stickers, the ones with cute sayings that make us smile or think happy thoughts while we’re stuck in heavy traffic on the way to the office or the supermarket. Some of the more popular ones sport messages of a spiritual nature. There’s a particular saying that caught my attention a few years after I came back to the Church. It caught my attention because it described in a few short words how I once lived my life. In my case, it prompted challenging rather than happy thoughts, as it reminded me of how I was always trying, despite my repeated lack of success, to be in control.
The bumper sticker read:
“God is my co-pilot.”
At first glance, this saying seems very thoughtful. The person behind the wheel of the vehicle advertising this message must certainly be driving down the right road. After all, they obviously consult God on at least a semi-regular basis if they have Him as their co-pilot. Shouldn’t that be the goal for all of us?
Actually, not quite. As we grow in our appreciation and understanding of who God is, it becomes apparent that this slogan actually encapsulates a big problem in our society today: our need to continually call the shots according to our own agenda. Especially in our comfortable Western world, we like to keep God close enough to consult or call on Him when we hit a few bumps in the road. We’re okay with Him hanging out in the passenger seat, but heaven forbid we allow Him to take the wheel. Just think about it for a minute. How arrogant are we to claim that the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the Creator of the universe, is our co-pilot? This kind of thinking leads us to view ourselves as equal to — or, in an even worse-case scenario, more important than — our Maker.
Lent is about getting out of our comfort zone. I believe this is essential in growing in our relationship with God that I devoted an entire chapter to it in my new book and series, “Beyond Sunday: Becoming a 24/7 Catholic.”
So, step number one, if we really want to go beyond Sunday: If God is your co-pilot, then, get out of your comfort zone, for crying out loud, and change seats!
If we need a few reminders about how God is God and we are not, all we need to do is refer to the Bible. As I mentioned earlier, I often tell folks to think of the word “Bible” as an acronym: Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. The Bible is full of beautiful verses on the power of God. These verses can help calm us down when we feel like we’ve got to be in complete control. Just a quick glance at Scripture can have a sobering and shrinking effect on our egos — and that’s a good thing.
Here are some excellent quotes from the Good Book on how God is in charge:
- Romans 11:33: “O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!”
- Jeremiah 23:24: “Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? says the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the Lord”
- Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
The bottom line is that if we want to see God work in our lives, and if we truly want to grow in our relationship with Him, we have to submit to His will and believe in our hearts that He is our loving Father. And Father really does know best. He wants us to be truly happy, but he is a gentleman and will not force His will on us. If we are willing to put God first and say, “Jesus, I trust in you,” then He will be able to work in our lives. It starts first with our complete “yes”—when we get out of our comfort zone and let God take the wheel.
Note: This is an adapted excerpt from Teresa Tomeo’s book “Beyond Sunday: Becoming a 24/7 Catholic” published by Our Sunday Visitor.