Our most recent trip to Florida was 2 years ago. My husband John and I love the water, the sun, floating in an inner tube on a Lazy River.
As we were disembarking the plane, we were excited about our future endeavor of relaxing before John’s retirement as a United Methodist Minister, and our plans to relocate to Pennsylvania from Connecticut.
We were in the line of people in the center aisle of the plane and inching closer to relaxation and the smell of suntan lotion and the surf was in the air! I could almost hear the excitement of the sea galls to see us as they squealed ‘Hi! Hi! Hi!’ in their little high pitched voices. (You just did that out loud, didn’t you?)
As we got to the front of the large plane, the pilot and copilot were standing there with extended hands to greet their passengers. They appeared to be about 12 years old. How could these two young people have flown that huge plane at such a young age? I just wanted to pinch their cheeks because they were so cute but really….. so young to be responsible for over 200 souls! I soon came to realize that they weren’t so young, it was I that was getting older. We were soon off the plane, luggage in tow, and in our rental car with John behind the wheel to our sweet spot.
I always liked to be behind the steering wheel. Don’t tell anyone, but when I was about 8, my Grandpa and I were out on an early morning ride on the back roads near our camp. He said to me, ‘come on over and sit on my lap and I’ll let you steer the car’. WHAT ??? As I slid onto his lap and took the wheel. What excitement! Turn it a little to the right and the car goes right, turn it a little to the left and the car goes left. It was the best day of my life to be able to do that. I drove for just a little while, then took my seat again in the ‘co-pilot’ seat. I can’t wait until I’m 16 and can drive all by myself.. only 8 years to go. The countdown begins.
In the years of the countdown, I was able to sit on my Dad’s lap on the gravely tractor as he cut the 11 acres grass of the camp every week. It was bumpy, but I sat on this lap and was able to guide the tractor as we were going straight, but he did the big turns.
I’m going to fast forward several decades to about the mid-1990s. I was behind the wheel in my car on my way to give a seminar to a room full of medical office managers about electronic claim submission. Computerization of medical offices and hospitals was in full swing, and I spent my days selling, training, supporting medical practice management systems, and doing medical office consulting work. My hands were glued to my steering wheel so very tightly that my knuckles were white, and my neck was so tight that my shoulders were almost up by my ears. I had just dropped our son off at school, and we had prayed extra hard together that morning. He was in middle school and having a friend situation that was as big as World War II to him at the moment. Our marriage was breaking up, and it was just a matter of ‘when’. My father wasn’t doing well at all; and in fact, there was talk about amputation of both of his legs to cardiovascular disease. In very real, brutally honest terms, I was a HOT MESS. I had about an hour in the car until I had to put on my happy mask, be confident, and succinctly speak to a room full of healthcare management professionals and put on a good front! The audio-visual team was already on-site setting up the computer connections for display for my session.
As I was driving the back roads to North Hills of Pittsburgh, I remember taking my purse off the passenger seat of the car and putting it on the floor. I invited God to sit in the passenger seat of my Thunderbird, and I began to pray, out loud, and unloaded myself to Him. The weight of everything that was going on around me was too much, and I asked him to be my Co-Pilot. The one to direct the course, to watch all of the gauges, the one who is there to keep his hands on the controls. ‘Please, God, please lead me in the right direction in all phases of my life. I lift David to you and have today be an encouraging day at school for him. Hold my Dad in the palm of your hand and direct the medical professionals regarding his health.’ All of a sudden, every muscle in my body relaxed and I loosened the death grip on the steering wheel as a yellow bird seemed to hover over the hood of my car. It was as if my car was stopped. That bird seemed to stay put above the hood of my vehicle, and it’s almost as if it looked at me! No kidding. My peace was restored, the feeling of confidence that everything was going to be OK with everybody was palpably present with me. I felt the very real presence of God flow through me. The yellow bird was gone, but the peace and blessed assurance remained with me.
As time went on, everything WAS okay. David had a good day at school and was reunited with a friend of his. My Father rallied a bit, did not have to have his legs amputated, and had a risky revascularization procedure performed that allowed blood to flow amply through his new blood vessels to his feet. He lived another five years and was able to enjoy his time walking with a cane. Our marriage did not survive, but God worked His mysterious ways in both of our lives, separately. We have been able to remain friends and to set a good example for our son and our grandchildren.
The most important thing that I learned out of that experience on the back road that day was that I had not asked God to be my Co-Pilot, but had handed everything over to Him to be the Pilot of my entire life. Once I was able to do that, He has directed the happenings of my life in amazing ways. With His hands on the steering wheel of my life, we’ve had many rewarding adventures and many more on the way, God willing. Proverbs 3:6 ‘In ALL your ways acknowledge him, and He will direct your path’.
My husband, John, was a jet engine mechanic in the Air Force and was certified to sit in the pilot’s seat of the cockpit to start the engine. Wow! That must have felt thrilling to be seated in that position and rev up those big engines. Just imagine what excitement and responsibility that was to a young man in the Air Force. Top Gun feeling!
With God as the Pilot, we’ve been able to live the Top Gun feeling every day. No longer do I need to feel that I have everything under control because I don’t. I’m free to not check the gauges, the directional system, or determine the safest route. I just greet people as they embark on my life. God has both hands firmly planted on the steering wheel of my life, and is in charge of all operations, the safety and security of His passenger, and makes all flight decisions of my life.
As for that little yellow bird… I’ve seen him a few times in the 25+ years since that day on the back road. I saw him the first day John and I moved into the Parsonage in our Methodist church appointment in Maine. He appeared again on a fence in the backyard whenever we were appointed to the Methodist church in Enfield, CT. Most recently, we saw him sitting on the patio railing a couple of days after we moved into our retirement home in Pennsylvania.
Thanks be to God for taking the wheel!
Be Blessed, Candy