“Life is a car ride, isn’t it?” I asked.
Yesenia smiled at me and continued watching the scenery without a response. I couldn’t be sure if this was encouragement to expand on the thought or if she simply didn’t understand what I said. Our different primary languages allows for moments like that.
I continued speaking as I usually do. I found myself rehashing many of the similes, metaphors and analogies you’ve probably read here before. Working our way around the potholes and over the speed-bumps of life; veering off the path; weather analogies; all of them came spewing out. I guessed that another blog wouldn’t be coming out of that random thought after all.
Then I remembered an item from earlier posts about how I used to leave my front seat empty for Jesus. That got me thinking about driving through life with Jesus and where does He sit during our great ride? So here it is: Life is a road trip…with our best friend, Jesus.
“Here you go!” my father said; and now I had them. The small brass pieces that would change my life. No longer was I confined a walking distance. No longer was I dependent on others to take me where I wanted to go. I was a driver! Dad handed me the keys to a wonderful new adventure. I drove to the beach, the mountains, the city and everywhere in between. I traveled north to Maine and south to the Carolinas with nothing packed but the spare tire. It was a time of freedom; a time of discovery.
When I found Christ later in life, it was like I got a new set of keys. My Heavenly Father provided a new life; a new adventure; a new road map to follow. I couldn’t wait to drive! And every time I started toward my new ride, no matter where I was going or what I was planning, Jesus yelled out, “Shotgun!”
Jesus was always in the front seat. Everyone could see that He was my best friend. He was waving out the window and playing with the radio every day. He always seemed to know the safest and fastest route. When I had car trouble, He always knew how to fix it. When I had trouble seeing signs, He would point them out to me. Life was pretty sweet.
But eventually I met someone else in our travels and decided to bring him along, too. Initially, my new friend jumped in the back; but one day, he beat Jesus to the punch and took over shotgun. Jesus was still in the car and nearby, but He got a little quieter. Talking and enjoying the ride with my new friend, it was easy to forget Jesus was back there sometimes. There were more and more days when it seemed I barely spoke to Him.
Eventually, we met other friends and the car started getting a little crowded. Jesus was sharing the back seat with two or three others and started getting crunched. The new guys were excited to be there and I was excited to have them with us. Jesus was lucky to get a word into any conversation. When I asked Him for directions, the other friends would answer for him. Eventually, I found myself just following their advice.
I didn’t even realize it when they stuck Jesus in the trunk. “Just a prank” they said. Now no one could tell that Jesus was with me! They saw me driving around with my new friends, making a lot of noise, oblivious to everyone else, it seemed. Then I got a flat tire. While grabbing the spare, I found Jesus back there. I felt awful. I apologized profusely. The others were laughing as Jesus helped fix the tire.
I knew my neighbors loved Jesus. What would they think if they saw He was in my trunk? I wanted everyone to know that Jesus was still important, but there was no room in the car anymore. So I asked him to ride on the hood like an ornament. Now everyone could see Him and know that he was with me. But riding on the hood didn’t let Him talk to me. My other friends were making so much ruckus, I didn’t even notice when Jesus tried to point me to a better route.
Finally came the day when I didn’t even bring Jesus along for the ride. I left Him in the house while my other friends fought over who would ride shotgun and overloaded my car with their stuff. I couldn’t believe how many friends I had and how much stuff they brought with them. I was admiring all the wonderful things and thinking how great life is when it happened. Bam! My car was wrecked.
I woke up in pain, trapped behind the wheel in a pile of sharp glass and torn metal. Every little movement cut and tore my skin. I called out to the others and heard only silence. A quick glance around revealed that everyone had run off. I was abandoned; bleeding, and trapped. I wondered if I was dying. That’s when I saw Him, standing next to the car.
“Jesus!” I said, “Help me?”
Jesus smiled and reached out to me. I realized I wasn’t trapped in that car after all. We walked across the street to another car. I could barely look Jesus in the face as I muttered sheepishly, “I did it again, didn’t I?”
He nodded as He wrapped His arms around me and whispered. “It’s okay. I forgive you.”
Then He tossed two new keys in the air and yelled, “Shotgun!” As I let the sensation of those two shiny brass pieces filled me with excitement, I wondered just how long I could keep this car on the road.
“It’s a blog. I just made it up.” Yesenia was looking at me quizzically.
“Oh!” she replied. “It’s very nice. Look! There are some deer.”
I love analogies and metaphors. The most important thing about the road trip analogy is that it doesn’t have to end with a wreck. We have the power to leave passengers and luggage at the curb at any point along the way. Keeping Jesus close makes the ride easier in so many ways. I understand now that the challenge is to keep Him from getting squeezed out by all the others competing for my attention, time and love. New keys are cool, but I hope to keep the keys I have now for the rest of my life.