By Julie Greenhalgh, Life Group leader, Jubilee Church Wirral
Life is a journey!
Now there’s a sentence I’ve heard many times.
When I think of a journey I generally think of travelling in a car. Of course, we can take physical journeys by foot, on bikes, in trains or aeroplanes but when I think about my life I tend to picture myself in a car.
Until I was 26 years old I was firmly in the driver’s seat of my life car! I decided which direction I was taking, which way I would turn at crossroads and what speed I liked to travel at.
For as long as I can remember I’ve always believed in God. I went to church and Sunday school (although that was on a Saturday in my church) and I prayed before bed. But I didn’t have a real and personal relationship with Him, I hadn’t allowed Him into my heart and I certainly hadn’t asked Him to forgive me for my sins.
When I was 26 I made the decision to become a Christian. I made a commitment, I invited God to live in my heart, I asked forgiveness for my sins and soon afterwards I was filled with the Holy Spirit.
But, even after all that, I still felt like I was in the driving seat in the journey of life!
That is until my life plans went completely pear shaped a couple of years after I became a Christian and the direction I was heading in was taken out of my hands. The way I thought my life was heading hit a hair pin bend and I felt like I’d taken my seat belt off. I was faced with a choice, either let go and be thrown from the car or dig my nails into the seat and have faith that the God who was now so personal to me would save me.
A good friend directed me to the following words from Proverbs 3:5-6
‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.’
I decided to trust. I made the choice to hand the reigns fully over to my Heavenly Father and move over into the passenger seat, I even closed my eyes for part of the journey and just let Him drive. It was there that I started to learn how to release control of the things that I realised I actually had no control over at all!
Don’t get me wrong, for any of you who know me, I still like to have control. I enjoy making plans, I love to research things and decide on the best course of action for myself and my family. From deciding which meals we’ll eat each day, to buying a new washing machine, to researching holiday destinations and prices. I love to plan. But now when I’m faced with a decision, from the small to the life changing, I stop and turn to my driver, my Father, and ask for advice.
Recently, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the journey my family has taken in last three years. At the start of 2018 we reached a huge roundabout. Our journey to Zambia drove us through months of planning and preparing, having no idea when or even if we’d ever make it out there. God drove us through fund raising and form filling, waiting and waiting, more form filling and arranging, waiting some more and finally to Zambia in September 2019. But then, and this part wasn’t part of the ‘plan’, He directed us back to the UK seven months later and home to the Wirral last July. Now, three years on from entering the roundabout we seem to have left at exactly the same exit!
So, what now? Things didn’t go according to my plan. Do I not trust my driver any more? Shall I move back into the driver’s seat? Absolutely not!! I know for sure, with a trust that comes from so deep within me, that my Heavenly Father has the greatest and best plans for my family and for me so I’m going to lean back and relax from my passenger seat. Jeremiah 29:11 says this -
‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.’
My life has take me up mountains and down into valleys, around sharp bends, across each lane of the motorway and down thin country lanes where I can’t see what’s coming round the bend. It’s taken me on wide, smooth, well lit and signposted roads and onto deeply rutted, muddy tracks. I’ve enjoyed off roading across fields and rivers and speeding around nice clean race tracks. Sometimes my car of life has felt like I’ve gone into reverse, sometimes I’ve broken down for a while and at other times we’ve parked up and waited in a quiet side road and rested. I’ve driven through green lights and sat at endless red lights. Sometimes I’ve put the top down and laughed in the wind and at other times I’ve wept at stop signs and dead ends.
But, through it all, I’ve been able to close my eyes at the scary parts, sleep when I needed to rest, stop at service stations for sustenance and enjoy the most amazing and beautiful scenery all from a seat next to my Father and for that I will always be thankful.
I made the right choice all those years ago and I wouldn’t change one mile of it!
Julie Greenhalgh, Life Group leader, Jubilee Church Wirral