I trust you, O Lord. I said, “You are my God.” My future is in your hands. [Psalm 31:14-15a (GW)]
By the time our son was seventeen, he had his pilot’s license. To log solo flight time, he’d often fly from his school in another state to a small airport near our home. We’d meet him there and enjoy lunch together before he returned. Sometimes, he’d take one of us up for a short flight over the scenic countryside before he flew back to school. I don’t even like commercial flights on a jumbo jet with a seasoned pilot so getting on a single-engine Cessna with a teenager at the controls was a leap of faith for me. Nevertheless, when I’m on a plane, I have to leave the flying to those far more skilled than I—even when it’s a seventeen-year-old! Reassuring myself that there was less my son could hit in the air (while trying to forget that safely landing a plane was probably more difficult than parallel parking), I surrendered control to him and trusted that he knew what he was doing.
God is my Co-Pilot is the title of a 1945 film based on the World War II exploits of Robert Lee Scott, Jr. That title eventually became a Christianese catch-phrase and still can be found on bumper stickers today. While a charming sentiment, it is theologically incorrect. If God is our co-pilot, we’re in the wrong plane! There are no dual controls in God’s plane and He doesn’t want us touching the yoke or messing with the rudder pedals. God is neither our assistant nor are we His. He’s not the passenger on our plane; we’re the passengers on His. We don’t belong anywhere in the cockpit; we belong back in the cabin. He has a flight plan specifically designed for each of us and we have to trust that plan to Him.
While it’s easy to trust in God’s sovereignty and cede the controls to Him when the journey is smooth, it’s much harder when turbulence occurs or it begins to storm. I’ve had some bumpy (and frightening) flights, especially over the mountains in summer, but I never barged into the cockpit to take charge nor did I don a parachute and bail out. Trusting the captain, I surrendered control to him, buckled up, prayed, and let him do his job.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult for me to admit that I’m no better at running my life than I am at piloting a plane. While I’m willing to trust a complete stranger to pilot me safely home in the midst of a storm, I often bail out or push into the cockpit of life and try to seize the controls from God at the first sign of turbulence in life. The end result is that I crash and burn and God ends up being rescue squad, fire department, clean-up crew, and salvage expert. Trust and obey is really all God asks of us, and yet we often try to do His job for Him.
Heavenly Father, forgive us for the many times we try to wrest control of our lives to go in another direction than the one you planned for us. As Creator of the Universe, we concede that you are far more skilled at plotting the best route, keeping us on course, and handling all the storms, unruly fellow travelers, engine problems, and fuel shortages that trouble our days. Secure in your love for us, we know that you want us to have a safe landing. You are the captain—the pilot of our plane. Trusting in you, we are your passengers awaiting your orders.
When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer. [Corrie Ten Boom]