Driving home one night, my house came into view, and I realized I had not consciously made decisions about which path I would take. I had quite literally been on autopilot, as my thoughts lingered on the meeting from which I had just come.
I realized that, whether or not we still lived in this house, this is where I would have driven in my distracted state. It was the house my family had called home for over a decade. It’s where my brain had been well-trained to go.
It struck me how similar life can be to this trip home on autopilot. We have habits and ways of doing things that have been around for years, just like this old house.
Sometimes we try to change our ways or add new and better habits. Maybe we commit to a new daily prayer routine or try to read the whole Bible in a year. Perhaps we seek out a life of service, resolving to volunteer at a local charity or become a foster parent.
But the truth is, this world is constantly tugging on us — pulling us toward a life of self-centered greed — demanding our attention. We are constantly bombarded with messages and noise, and it can be exhausting.
Before we know it, we’ve slipped into autopilot, and we are driving back toward that old house — the old way of doing things. Prayer has gone out the window along with the Bible, and we lost the number to the charity.
But then, in a moment of recognition, we snap out of it. We look around and realize we aren’t headed in the direction we intended to go.
It can be embarrassing, defeating, and more than a little guilt-inducing as we think, “Surprise, surprise, I failed again.”
During these times, visions of past failures march through our mind, and it’s tempting to just give up. We think, “Well, it was a good idea, but I guess I’m not a ‘good’ enough Christian to actually do it.”
But imagine for just a moment that you are driving your car and suddenly realize you are headed in the wrong direction. Would you give into it? Would you shrug your shoulders, pull up to the house where you don’t live anymore, and walk in like you own the place?
Of course not, that would be crazy cakes!
Instead, when you realized you were headed in the wrong direction, you would turn your car around and go the direction you originally intended to go.
Sure, you might be annoyed that you lost so much time heading in the wrong direction. You might even feel a little embarrassed or guilty that you allowed yourself to get so off course. But, in the big picture, you’d know there was no harm done.
As Christians, it is the same for us. We may find that we did not arrive at the destination for which we set out, but we don’t need to give into it. We don’t need to give up.
However off course we find ourselves, all we need to do is turn our car around. Point it toward Jesus.
Maybe that means recommitting to a daily prayer routine or picking up that Bible. Maybe it means returning the phone call of the mission where you were thinking about volunteering or filling out the paperwork to become a foster parent.
Whatever your road, however far you’ve driven off course, you don’t need a monumental moment like Lent or New Years to re-commit. Just take the first step — turn your car around and start heading in the right direction.
So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17