I spend a great deal of time in my car. When I’m not driving to and from work or work related events, I’m meeting with my sister for dinner, going to babysit, or taking care of errands that always seem to conveniently be at opposite ends of town. If ever a movie was made about my life, it would be best depicted from behind a steering wheel, because that’s mainly what I do – I drive places.
When life seems like a constant stream of to and from, you learn to take the in between moments to pray for sanity, guidance, and direction. When I speak of direction, I’m talking about general direction in life, but most often that turns into desperate pleas for literal directions, because I’m a girl that gets lost a lot. Regardless, I’ve savored a lot of sweet talks with the Lord from behind the wheel of my car, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
One night, I was waiting to meet a friend. I pulled into a random parking lot, pulled out my phone, and played candy crush until my eyes hurt. The minutes began to grow longer as my patience grew shorter, and I decided that the best thing to do would be to grab a hot chocolate and spend some time in the Word. As I sat there in the same seat that I had uttered many quick prayers to the Father, trying to spend time with him, something didn’t feel right. I don’t know how and I don’t know why, but the next thing I knew, I had shifted to the passenger’s seat of my car. It was just one of those Spirit led moments when you find yourself doing something odd, but in the moment you know not to question it.
And so I sat in the passenger’s seat of my car with my bible and hot chocolate in hand. For hours. My friend had long forgotten of the plans we had made, and truthfully, so had I. I looked up to realize it was 2 am, and I’d been sitting in that parking lot for a good portion of the night. There was something so unique and special about that night, and it’s a feeling I’ll never forget. It wasn’t the first time I’d prayed or opened my Bible. It wasn’t the first time I’d sat quietly in my car. But it was the first time that I learned a lesson so simple, yet so valuable: I learned how to be.
You learned how to ‘be?’ What does that even mean? You may be wondering…
That night I learned how to sit in the presence of God and linger there for hours. I watched, I prayed, I listened, and I was still. I was quieted in the presence of the Most High and I knew I never wanted to settle for anything less.
These things I now call “car chats” have developed into a pattern over the months. I go to the same gas station, grab a hot chocolate, drive to a random parking lot and meet with Jesus. It’s a wonderful habit that my heart has grown to crave more and more. (The car chat, not the hot chocolate).
One late night last week I was driving home from babysitting and I happened to be toting a vase of flowers that I had intended to deliver to someone that night. The person was out of town, so I had to haul the water-filled vase back home with me. I quickly realized that there wasn’t a steady place to set the flowers, so I leaned them up against the passenger seat and hoped for the best. As luck would have it, as I exited the neighborhood, the vase took a tumble, and its contents spilled into the seat and directly onto everything else I had sitting in there as well. I was in a panic. I didn’t know what to grab first – my journal, my bible, my sneakers, or my cell phone. As I made my way to the side of the road, I grabbed for my water-laden cell phone and began shaking it frantically. Then I threw all of the other drenched items into the backseat and very angrily made my way home.
The next morning as I got in my car, I glanced at the damp seat, which held the reminder of the last night’s fiasco. My first reaction was to relive the frustration, but the tugging on my heart told me otherwise. As I gazed at that soggy spot, I was filled with perspective. That wasn’t just a soggy seat – it was a sacred place – a place that’s brought comfort and a seat that’s brought solace. At times, I’ve felt more lost in that passenger’s seat than I have from behind the wheel. It’s a place where I go when I need direction, when I need truth, or when I simply long to sit in His presence and stay a while. A lot more than murky flower vase water has been spilled on that seat. In the dark of many nights behind frost- covered windows, I’ve poured out my heart and He’s poured out His love. It’s been a place of consistent overflow, where the culmination of every emotion – joy, struggle, sin, pain, anger, heartache – have all been laid out before the One who knows me best.
A couple of days later, I was thumbing through the pages of my Bible. The crisp, stuck together pages wore the proof that it was the last thing I picked up and tossed to the back seat, as it seemed to be the item that sustained the most damage. In my panic, I had reached first for my phone, because that was thing that held most importance upon a quick survey of the seat for what was in need of immediate salvaging. I’m not saying that in my mid-driving mini tsunami I wish I had picked up my Bible first, but I sure wish I didn’t pick it up last. Today, the crinkled pages serve as a reminder to look first to the Word when life overflows. To seek first the Living Water to quench the thirst of my dry spirit. To cling to the Throne before grabbing the phone.
I’m learning a lot from life in the passenger’s seat. I’m learning to ask for directions and I’m learning the humbling art of surrendering the driver’s seat, sitting in silence, and learning to listen.There’s such freedom in knowing that He’s already mapped out the route for your life before you feet will ever land there. I’ve found that time after time, when we let Jesus take the wheel (sorry, that reference had to go in here somewhere), we can kick our feet up in the passenger’s seat and enjoy the ride. We can enjoy His presence; we can learn to just be.
Jeremiah tells us that when we seek Him with our hearts wholly, we will find Him. Though you may not meet with him in your passenger’s seat, wherever it is that you enter His presence, He’s sure to show up. Count on that. Crave it. Cling to it. And know that He’s sovereign – even in the spills.