Did you ever ride a bicycle built for two–a tandem bike? I think I tried it once, but it requires a great deal of coordination. Both people on that bike have to be in agreement about where they’re going, how fast they’re going, and who is going to take the lead, because the person in the front seat has control in those key areas. The person in the driver’s seat sets the course.
I want you to stretch your imagination with me a bit as we take a tandem bike journey. Imagine that this tandem bike is for you and the Lord. It’s the bike you received when you accepted Jesus as your Savior. You exchanged your broken down bike with training wheels for this beautiful shining new bicycle built for two. You were getting nowhere on that pitiful excuse you had for transportation, but now you’re ready to go because Jesus gave you this new bike. And from that point on you have not been traveling this journey alone, but the Lord is with you every minute of every day.
Jesus has promised to take you to the high places where everything is beautiful. So, envision yourself on this journey through life on a tandem bike with the Lord. It’s time to get started, and you take the driver’s seat.
You say to Jesus, “Lord, please join me in my journey through life. I love you and I want you to be with me; I want you to be a part of my life. So, please jump on here behind me, and let’s get going.”
You may not notice the look of disappointment on his face, as he says to you, “Perhaps you might let me sit in the driver’s seat. I know the road, and I can guide you much better if I’m up front. Trust in me with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge me, and I will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
But you’re convinced that you know how to drive this bicycle, you know where you want to go, and you really believe you can handle everything just fine, as long as the Lord comes along with you. “Oh, Lord,” you say, “really I can do a good job of driving this bike. So, please just join me.”
Things go pretty well on this bike journey, with you in the driver’s seat, until you run into a fork in the road. “Wow,” you say to yourself, “I’ve got to decide what to do here. I wonder which is the best way. Oh, well, this road looks the smoothest; I’ll take it.”
So off you head, pedaling your bike down what you think is the right road, with the Lord pedaling behind you. The Lord whispers in your ear, “Why don’t you stop and consult the road map? I’ve given you a very explicit and helpful book to guide you on this journey.”
“I will do that; yes,” you assure the Lord, “but right now, Lord, let’s just keep pedaling because this road looks terrific and we’re going to have a great time.” But as the day wears on, you start to get a little tired and a little worried. “I’m not sure we’re on the right road, Lord, so let me stop and ask for directions.”
You pull into a service station, and leave the Lord to watch the bike while you go inside to talk to the service station attendant.
“Hi,” you say; “I’m trying to get to the high places. Am I on the right road?”
The attendant replies, “The high places? Well, I’m not exactly sure where that is, but I can tell you that this road will take you to some wonderful spots where you can have a lot of fun. Remember, you only go around once in this life, so go for the gusto. This is an easy road; you’ll find that your self-confidence will improve on this road; your self-esteem will soar; and you will impress a lot of people. This road leads to fulfillment. So, keep pedaling; you are on the right road!”
You head back to the bike where the Lord is patiently waiting, and say, “Wow, we’re going to have a great trip on this road, Lord. This is the road to self-fulfillment.”
He replies, “But the road to self-fulfillment is a dead-end. You’ll never find the high places on this road. If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Matthew16:24-25).
“Lord,” you say, “you must be mistaken. Everybody knows that you have to be self-fulfilled and have confidence and good self-esteem in order to be happy. This is a great road, Lord; let’s get going.”
You start down your road again, and you pedal and pedal and pedal and pedal, but the more you pedal, the worse this road looks. “Lord, are you pedaling?” you ask. But you hear nothing from behind you. Finally, exhausted from your search for self-fulfillment, you stop in bewilderment.
“I’m confused. That guy told me this road leads to fulfillment but I haven’t found it yet no matter how hard I pedal.” The tears start to roll down your cheek as you think of all the effort and time you’ve put into this journey to find fulfillment, and so far it seems to be going nowhere.
Quietly Jesus says to you, “Who told you to go down this road?”
“Well, it was the service station attendant,” you reply. “I figured he knows the territory as well as anybody. I mean, everyone goes to service station attendants to ask for directions, Lord.”
Jesus asks, “Why did you go to a service station attendant when you have my road map and you have me? Have I not told you that my Word is a lamp to your feet and a light for your path?”
“Well, yes,” you answer, “but everyone asks service station attendants for directions….”
“But you are my child,” Jesus says, “and you do not need people of this world to guide you. In fact, when you insist on going to the world system for guidance, you will always end up on the wrong road.”
“But Lord, surely the road to fulfillment is the right road,” you reply. “Just look around—everybody else is headed down this road.”
Jesus replies, “Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
Wearily you look at the Lord, you look at your bike, and you look at the road ahead. You’re just about ready to give up because it looks like mission impossible to get to the high places, especially since you’ve been headed so long down the wrong road.
But Jesus says to you, ever so gently: “My child, are you now ready for me to take the driver’s seat?”
You think about that, realizing that if he takes the driver’s seat, he will make the decisions about where you’re going and how you’re going to get there, and that scares you a little bit. You ask him, “Well, where will you go, Lord? If you’ll just tell me exactly what your plan is, then I’ll be glad to pedal along behind you. But I really need to know precisely how you plan to get us to the high places.”
“My dear child,” he replies, “I know where the high places are and I know exactly how to get there. Isn’t it enough for you to know that I am the eternal God and I have promised to take care of you?”
You are frightened. “You mean, just let you take the driver’s seat without any plan?”
Jesus smiles at you and says, “Of course not; I’m taking you to the high places, and believe me, I intend to get you there. I know the plans I have for you; plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
That encourages you. “Great,” you say, “you’ve got a plan. Which road will you take? Will it be the road to wife and mother? Or how about the road to successful career woman? As a matter of fact, I’ve even thought about going on the road to missionary. Bet you’d really be happy if I took that road, right? See, here are my plans for my life; any of these is just fine with me, and I’m sure they’ll take me to the high places. Take the front seat, that’s fine, and just choose any of these roads I’ve listed here.”
But Jesus responds, “I can’t take the front seat until you allow me to chart the course for our journey.”
“But you haven’t told me where we’re going,” you reply. “Promise you won’t take the road to eternal singleness. Promise? Or the road to Africa; I don’t like snakes. Just promise me that and I’ll get on and pedal.”
Jesus says, “I promise you that I’ll never leave you or forsake you. Isn’t that enough?”
That causes some serious thought on your part. Is it enough for you to know that Jesus is in the driver’s seat, or do you want to control the journey? This is a very important place for you to consider carefully what you’re going to do. It’s time to count the cost.
You know, when we refuse to allow Jesus to take the driver’s seat in our life’s journey, what we are in essence saying to him is “You are not trustworthy. I’m afraid for you to guide my life because I just can’t trust you to make those decisions.”
You may be thinking that you would never say such a thing to the Lord, but that is exactly what we are saying when we get on the front seat of our tandem bike and ask the Lord to take the back seat. We want him along, that’s for sure, but we don’t want to relinquish control of our lives.
How incredibly foolish of us! What makes us think that we can do a better job at guiding our lives than the Lord of creation? I can tell you from personal experience that taking the front seat is a road map to nowhere. For ten years of my life I decided to be in charge and put the Lord behind me. I had certain desires and ambitions and I didn’t want anything or anyone to interfere with my plans. It would have been nice to have the Lord’s blessings on my plans, but I didn’t want his interference. So, I sat in the front seat and pedaled and pedaled and pedaled.
What did I achieve? A lot of restlessness and discontent; a sinful lifestyle, a great deal of disillusionment and discouragement; and big doses of frustration as it seemed that the harder I pedaled, the more troubled I was. Finally, I let the Lord take the front seat and guide my life and what a difference the journey has been since then.