There’s a bumper sticker I saw recently that said “God is my co-pilot.” And it got me thinking about the roles that God has played in my life. During various times of my life, God has sat in various positions on the airplane upon which I’ve been piloting (no, I really am not a pilot, just taking a little literary license here). Sometimes He’s been the co-pilot, sometimes He’s been the navigator, sometimes He’s been the air traffic controller, sometimes He’s been the flight attendant, sometimes He’s been a passenger, sometimes He’s been the baggage handler, sometimes He’s been the janitor, and sometimes He hasn’t been on the plane at all.
For a good part of my life, God pretty much wasn’t on the plane much at all. When I was little I thought about God and wanted Him in my life, but my parents were on again and off again church attenders (I surmise that we attended church mostly when they felt guilty). I didn’t really know how to have a relationship with Him. As I grew up the lack of a firm basis of church and Biblical teaching didn’t lead me to think about God much, the world had it way and I was wrapped up in it. I did so many things on my own, and God never entered the equation. He simply was not there, not consulted.
As the janitor, I expected God to come in and clean up my messes that I made in my life. He basically was on call – to mop things up, wipe off the dust, vacuum up my messy crumbs, and generally tidy everything up – so that I could be on my way.
As the baggage handler, I expected God to do the heavy lifting of all that baggage that I was carrying around, when I got tired of carrying it. I could load myself up with as much baggage as I wanted and when I got weighed down, I called on Him so that I could pass it onto Him. Then, I was free to load myself back up again with the same, or different baggage. After all, God would be there to take it from me the next time I was overloaded.
As the passenger, I expected God to be along for the ride, whenever and wherever I wanted to go. The timing and the route were my choice, and so many times I took the plane up into the sky without a flight plan. As the passenger, God had no say in the direction or the length of the journey.
As the flight attendant, I expected God to serve me up some sweet refreshment whenever I was thirsty or hungry. He would be ready to come when I summoned Him. He would roll His cart right up to my seat and offer me a good variety of items that would fill me up and quench my thirst. Then I could dismiss Him until needed again.
As the air traffic controller, I expected God to make sure that my path was clear in whatever direction I was heading at the time. He was to be sure that I could land from my current escapade onto a clear, clean, open runway.
As the navigator, I gave God a little control, He was allowed to guide me on which direction I needed to take, He was to be aware of my position at all times, and guide me through any congestion – whether I was the one responsible for the congestion or not.
As my co-pilot, God had considerably more influence in the cockpit of my life. He was expected to go over the checklists and instruments, He was to insure that my flight plan was filed and cleared, He was expected to monitor the runways and sky for any possible collisions, take turns flying when I got tired, or completely take over if I was incapacitated.
In each of these roles, God was always secondary and never primary – I was the pilot, and I was in control at all times. And, when I placed God in these roles, I limited the influence that He, a perfect sovereign being had. And, not only that, but I made things so much harder on myself, had I allowed God to guide me all the time, all the way, and had I stayed in constant communication with Him, listening for His still quiet voice, there’s no telling where, or who I would be now.
God knew the choices that I would make, long before I made them, and through all the consequences of my poor choices, He’s been right there by my side, holding my hand, or even carrying me along. You might even say that He was a good sport about it all. He’s just been waiting for me to get over myself so that He can bless me the way that He’s always wanted.
A while back, I began to understand that I needed let, no really insist, that God take the pilot’s seat and let me sit in the co-pilot’s seat. Once seated there, I could do the things that God instructed me to do – when and how He wants it. I hand him the checklist, I give him all the controls, I flip the switches that He tells me to flip, when He tells me to flip them. I steer using the steering tiller when God tells me to. I increase or decrease my altitude and my attitude when God tells me too. With God in the pilot’s seat I am assured that the route to the destination will always be the swiftest, and least confusing. I simply just have to be ready and willing to listen and comply with my pilot’s instructions – and most importantly not try to take over the controls.
God is my pilot.