Is God Your Co-pilot?

God is my copilot

Remember these bumper stickers? I haven’t seen one in a while, and that’s a good thing. Perhaps we’ve come to realize that we need to let God be in charge, instead of relegating Him to co-pilot status. We know that God needs to be in the pilot’s seat. Yet, how often we forget!

It isn’t just us. The problem started way back in the Garden of Eden. Look at Genesis 3:1-7. Everything up to this point was good. Adam and Eve had meaningful, productive work, a lovely place to live, and all their needs were being met by God. Of course, it didn’t stay that way.

Satan slithered into view, and challenged Eve with, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Notice that he’s suggesting something that God did not say. In fact, it’s far from the truth. God had provided the fruit for food.

Eve is quick to correct him: “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” However, she doesn’t get her facts quite right either. I’ve always wondered—God gave that commandment to Adam before Eve was around (Genesis 2:16-17), so she got her information secondhand. Who added that bit about touching?

In any case, Satan first calls God a liar, then appeals to Eve’s desire for autonomy: “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

How enticing! Once we are like God, we can go our own way, make our own decisions, plot our own course. We won’t need Him anymore. Satan plants the seeds of distrust—God is lying. He is withholding something desirable, something good. He doesn’t have your best interests at heart.

We all know what happened next—instead of trusting God’s love and wisdom, Eve depends on her own analysis. The fruit is safe to eat. It looks good. It’s tasty. As a result, Adam and Eve ate the fruit that God had commanded them not to eat, and we’ve been trying to rely on ourselves, usurping God’s authority, ever since.

Over the years I’ve asked a number of non-Christians why they don’t accept God’s offer of relationship. The answers have varied, but there’s a theme, one that a friend from my high school years expressed best—“I believe in God, but I don’t want Him telling me what to do. I can make my own decisions.” Nothing has changed since the garden.

Even those of us who claim to be believers struggle with this desire to be in charge. We want God to be in our life. We may agree with this alternate bumper sticker…

god is my copilot switch seats

… but when it gets down to the wire, we want God to bless our plans, while we stay in control.

This was brought home to us recently. Pete was asked to look over some plans for the expansion of a well-known ministry. There were plenty of spreadsheets, lots of technical details, and alternate plans for every contingency. It all looked pretty impressive, and their goals were laudable.

But as Pete read, he was surprised and disappointed by what was missing—any mention of dependence on the Holy Spirit. This was a ministry, but their documented processes were no different from those of any secular corporation. Where was their reliance on God?

When asked about the lack of spiritual input, they explained that leaving it all in God’s hands just seemed too fuzzy. Instead of relying on God’s direction, their board wanted everything nailed down, with predetermined procedures and measurable outcomes. In their desire for control, the Holy Spirit was excluded.

Praying for God to reveal His will, then waiting on His answer, feels so… unpredictable. We want to know where we’re going, how we’ll get there, when we’ll arrive, and how we’ll pay for it all. Jesus simply says, “Follow Me.” We want all the facts before we make a decision. God says, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1; italics mine.)

God is asking us to go far beyond trusting what we can see, to trusting Him. He’s inviting us to come onboard without asking about  possible turbulence, the duration of the flight, or planned stopovers (although we do know our final destination). Just hand him our baggage, fasten our seatbelts, and see where He will take us. He guarantees it will be the journey of a lifetime.


Bait & Switch

usedcarIf you’ve paid much attention to advertising, you’re familiar with the old “bait and switch” tactic. You know the scheme—the ad in the paper features a hot used car for a ridiculous price, but when you show up to buy it, you learn that it was “just sold”—but here’s another one, only a bit beat up and for a lot more money than you’d planned to spend. Would you like to go for a test drive?

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Going to London

But I don’t want to go to London!

1989-5 England 022According to our return itinerary, our Swazi mission team has a twelve hour layover at Heathrow Airport, in London. Of course, my teammates want to take advantage of the time to see some sights. I totally understand—who wouldn’t jump at the chance to spend some time in one of the most interesting cities in the world?

Me, for one.

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Am I a Biblical Woman?

A-year-of-biblical-womanhood-bookI should have read this book sooner.

I’ve enjoyed Rachel Held Evans’ blog in the past, and I knew she was a talented writer. I care deeply about the issue of women in the church—to the point where I’ve read dozens of books and articles on the subject. So why did I wait nearly a year to pick up a copy of Evans’ book A Year of Biblical Womanhood, even after it made the N.Y. Times bestseller list and was recommended by a couple of friends, both of whom are exceptionally good at picking out worthwhile books? I guess I was too cheap to buy a copy.

Turns out that not only did our library have it available, I was able to download it to my phone in three minutes. Now I’m buying copies as gifts for my friends (shhh, don’t tell them—it’s a surprise). It’s that kind of book.

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Willow in NICU 2 wks1Tuesday, I wrote about how I came to follow Jesus. Today I continue the story.

I had been born again, but in a way, it was a premature birth. I just didn’t have a clue about what I’d signed up for, that my new-found faith was going to impact every aspect of my life. Still, it was a birth. I was naked and messy and knew nothing, but I was alive.

I had my first communion at an all-campus service on June 1, right before finals week, and was baptized in the lake on campus the next afternoon. I took my tests, packed up my dorm room, hopped in my car and headed home for the summer. Continue reading

(not) God

It’s amazing what you can find online. CNN picked up this story that first appeared on

Why would anyone tattoo “God” on their forehead? I can only assume that she considered it a label. She thinks she is God. That’s a pretty common New Age belief—see this post at SpiritLibrary for just one example.

As doctrinally correct Christians, we would recoil at proclaiming ourselves God. Or even god. We know better, right?

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A Little Advice for Couples: Submission

The theme for this summer has been “relationships.” Several dear friends are joyfully falling in love, while another close couple is at risk of falling out of it. Those who are unmarried are contemplating marriage. The two who are married are in danger of separation.

Maybe it’s the gray hairs, maybe it’s our 31 years of marriage (and we still like one another!), but Pete and I are being asked for wise counsel in all these relationships. I count this a huge responsibility, and I’ve spent a lot of time begging God to direct my words. (I’m especially asking for godly wisdom, the courage to pass on what He tells me, and a lot of love for everyone involved.)

In the middle of all this relating, I’ve come to realize that there are some commonalities. I would like to address two critical issues in particular: submission and secrets. Today I focus on submission.

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How to Make Yourself Miserable

I have a friend who’s been pretty miserable lately. This is someone I care a lot about, and I’ve been praying for her daily. As sometimes happens when we pray for someone, I’ve gained some insight into her situation. Perhaps the Spirit told me directly, perhaps I simply recognized a situation that’s all too familiar. Either way, it’s clear to me that she’s running from God.

Mind you, my friend is a Bible-believing Christian. That’s not the issue. Rather, God has asked her for something that she’s unwilling to give Him. Never mind that it would greatly benefit her to do so. Never mind that God will take better care of it than she ever could. Giving up something that is a deep part of ourselves is never easy.

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