Sermon "Skill in Your Hand & God in Your Heart"

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Turn Your Wheel the Way You Want Your Life to Go

I pondered the direction of my life, and I turned to
follow your laws. Psalm 119:59 (New Living Translation)

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  The snow, sleet and ice we got yesterday turned my usual 45 minute commute home into 2 hours. But that's ok. I'd rather spend an extra hour or so making it home safely, than hours sitting on the side of the road, or worse. See, in my 25 years of driving, it only took one time of waiting on the side of the road over an hour for a tow truck after skidding in the snow to learn my lesson and slow down.

But yesterday, the roads were much worse than I expected when I left work early, and I saw so many cars off the side of the road. I wasn't even sure if driving slowly was enough to keep me from sliding. So I started thinking about the advice that I have heard on what to do when your car starts sliding. I'm sure most of you have heard it too, and maybe some of you have tried it, so you know that you're supposed to...say it with me now..."turn your wheel in the direction of the skid". Riiiight! In the few times I've been in that situation, whether in rain or ice or snow, I honestly don't know what I did. I'm not sure what I did with the wheel, or how I kept it in the road (except for that one time when I didn't).

But wait....does that really work? As I looked out my windows this morning at the roads still covered with ice, I was wondering how is that supposed to help. So I did what every question-laden, knowledge-seeking scholar would do...I googled it. Turns out from what I read, that advice is incorrect, or at least incomplete. The things is, if you start skidding, turning in the direction of the skid is supposed to keep you from going into a tail-spin. Makes sense. But the problem is, once your tires regain their traction, they are going to then just send you headed in the direction your wheels are then turned, which would be either in oncoming traffic, or off the side of the road. Makes sense too. So, the other half of the advice should be, once your tires regain traction, you are then to turn your wheel back toward the direction you want to go, ie, away from the skid.

Well, all of that is a lot for my brain to process just sitting here typing about it, so I know I won't have the presence of mind to think about that, much less do it, if I find myself skidding again. So, I'll do what I've been doing. Slow down, and trust in the Lord. Buuuut, that driving technique does awaken a thought in my heart about something spiritual.

Think about your life like driving down the road. We face some straight paths  and some curvy roads; some roads up mountains that test our power, and others down mountains that test our brakes. Some days seem like life is so good we can just coast on cruise control, and other days we're gripping the wheel and holding on for dear life. And every once in a while, we drive into something that sends our life into a skid. Could be bad news, an unexpected bill, a broken relationship, sickness or death, or many other things. And whether it comes suddenly or gradually, the skid is always scary.

So what do you do? Our natural reaction sometimes is to go with the skid; we think things like: 'oh the marriage is failing, let me just end it'; 'the job is too hard, I'll just quit'; 'my weight is so out of control, I might as well give up exercising, and eat to make myself  feel better';  'my grades are just too bad now, no need to keep going to school';  'I can't live since the death of my loved one, I may as well just die too', or 'my sin is unforgiveable, there's no need to stop doing it now'.

That might feel like the natural thing to do, but it will certainly end up with a crash. Instead, we should do what the writer in Psalm 119 said. "I pondered the direction of my life, and I turned to follow your laws." So when our life starts spinning out of control, we should think about where God wants us to be, and steer in that direction. A pastor whose podcasts I listen to a lot, named Craig Groeschel said "Where you will end up in your life is not determined by your intentions but by your direction." Not only is it a law of physics, but also a law of faith, that you will only end up in the places you are headed towards. So if you want to change your destination, you must change your direction. If you want to end up somewhere different, you've got to turn your wheel.

Where are you headed? Has something in your life sent you sliding into oncoming traffic or off  the side of your road? You don't really want things to end the way it looks like it's going to end do you? I know you don't. So turn your wheel. In fact, surrender the wheel to Jesus, and He will turn it for you. Then He will turn your wheel the way you want your life to go.

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