No one likes a backseat driver!

One of the most universally disliked personas is the backseat driver. A backseat driver is someone who constantly criticizes your driving, often when there is no true need for criticism.

My wife can sometimes be a backseat driver, although usually from the shotgun seat. If I recall, the two biggest arguments in our 22-year marriage have been from backseat driver “incidents.” In my mind, the hundreds of hours and thousands of miles she has spent in the car with me 100 percent accident free should earn me some trust. In her mind, she is trying to be helpful. And, granted, she has probably prevented an accident or two by pointing out dangers to me before I noticed them.

The whole backseat driver phenomenon seems to stem from dislike of being out of control. I completely understand this, as I much prefer to drive a car than ride in someone else’s car. But, when I ride with another driver, I can, for the most part, keep my mouth shut and just trust that the driver knows what he/she is doing. Clearly, though, the “sit down, be quiet, and enjoy the ride” attitude is difficult for many people.

Let’s apply this backseat driver concept to our relationship with God. God is sovereign. He is absolutely in control of our lives. As much as we would like to limit Him to riding in the passenger seat or being the GPS, God is, in fact, the driver. I have observed that many of our questionings of God’s plan sound almost identical to a backseat driver.

Watch out for that _____!

Are you sure this is the best way to get there?

I’m in a bit of a hurry. Can you speed up?

You’re going too fast!

Granted, sometimes riding with God is like going on a difficult 4X4 trail in a Prius or driving on an icy road with a rear wheel drive sports car. But God will always get you where you need to be exactly when you need to be there. God doesn’t make wrong turns. God never fails to notice deer crossing the highway, crater-sized potholes, or Jehu-like drivers (2 Kings 9:20).

Yes, God sometimes takes the scenic route when we’d prefer the fast lane. He does so because it is scenic. He has a purpose in it. We should stop complaining and enjoy the view. Yes, riding with God will result in what is, in our minds, accidents. Even in this we can...we Him. He knows what He is doing and His plan is perfect (Romans 8:28).

I entirely admit that I am much better at not being a literal backseat driver than I am at not being a spiritual backseat driver. I trust Him. I truly do. God has entirely and absolutely proven Himself to be trustworthy. But, yes, I still sometimes question Him. Thank you, Lord, for your love, mercy, and grace. The next time I am a spiritual backseat driver, please kick me out of the car and make me walk home.

From now on, whenever I experience a backseat driver, I am going to strive to remember to thank God for how patient He is with me. If you get annoyed by a backseat driver, imagine how annoying 7 billion of them must be!

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor? Or who has given a gift to Him that He might be repaid? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:33-36 ESV)

S. Michael Houdmann

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No one likes a backseat driver!