Episode 1. Who is in the Driver's Seat?
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So many people believe in Jesus, and yet head off down the track of life – completely in their own direction and then, wonder why it just doesn’t seem to be working that well. Question – in …
So many people believe in Jesus, and yet head off down the track of life – completely in their own direction and then, wonder why it just doesn’t seem to be working that well. Question – in your life, who’s in the driver’s seat?
I’d like to kick this week off by asking you a simple question. In your life, right now, who is in the driver’s seat, you or God? I mean, who’s calling the shots, the big decisions and even the smaller ones? Are you making them independently or is it first and foremost in your mind to be discovering what God’s plans are, what His choices are for your life? How He wants you to proceed with this decision or that one over there?
It may be that for you, well you don’t think it really makes much of a difference, perhaps deep down in your heart you know it does but, well you know how we put God in a box and close the lid or perhaps its the passion of your heart to have Jesus in the drivers seat of your life. From God’s perspective it’s an important question, a very important question and actually it makes all the difference when it comes to living life.
A while ago I stumbled across a passage of scripture, a simple little verse in a Psalm, and it blew me away. And the reason that it did is that it summed up my life in a nut shell. If you’ve listened to these programs at all in the past you may have heard me say that for the first 36 years of my life, well I’d have nothing to do with God. I mean I’d walk my own direction, my own path, my own plan, my own life and here’s the amazing thing.
I had my fair share of talents and abilities, I certainly had some good breaks – good education and a middle class upbringing and I came out of that with good self esteem. I had the benefit of military training, I went into my own business and I look back on all of that and you’d have to say, “Well Berni, you pretty much had a dream run.” But somehow, you know, it never amounted to anything.
Anyhow this verse of scripture, it comes from Psalm 127 verse 1, have a listen and see if perhaps it rings a bit true in your life too:
Unless the Lord builds the house the builder labours in vain. Unless the Lord guards the city the guard keeps watch in vain. It’s in vain that you rise up early and go to bed late and eating the bread of anxious toil because God gives rest to His beloved.
Now here’s the rub, at least for me, all of my life I worked hard, I applied my talents and abilities as a military officer, as a businessman, as a consultant and a leader and on paper, I guess I did it pretty well. Could I have done better? Mmm, perhaps with the benefit of hindsight. I did my best along the way but as I said, it somehow never seemed to amount to much. See, I was building my house for me, according to my plan but what God’s saying is that unless He’s the one building the house, we the builders labour in vain.
I was looking out for Number One all the time, making sure I was safe and protected and getting the best out of life but through this verse in this Psalm God’s saying that unless He guards the city we keep watch in vain and all my hard work, all my plans, all my dreams they all fell in a screaming heap when I was about 36. My plan was to make as much money as I could and I ended up broke at age 36, with nothing.
Now I won’t go into all the details but it came apart big time. I look back and I could say, “Well, that was a waste”. But actually, you know I look back and I think that’s probably one of the most important lessons I ever learned in my life. It’s a hard way to learn but I have to tell you, the lesson has sure stuck with me.
Unless the Lord builds the house the builder labours in vain.
And I think there’s some of that in each one of us now, to different degrees and it manifests itself in different ways but we all have this tendency to head down the path of life with “me” in the drivers seat, with you in the driver’s seat.
There’s a fascinating time in Israel’s history, they were in the Promised Land. You know, God got them out of Egypt through the Exodus and put them in the Promised Land and blessed them and they had plenty of everything and they had peace but Israel turned their back on God. Israel decided to worship other God’s and idols and to do with sexual immorality and all sorts of horrible stuff was going on in Israel and after centuries of this God said, “Enough is enough, you either end this or I’m going to punish you.”
Well, they didn’t pay heed when God spoke to them through the prophets so God raised up the Babylonian army. The Babylonians were the world power, kind of like the USA is today. And He sent the Babylonians against Judah and they destroyed Jerusalem, they destroyed the temple, they killed a lot of the people and those that were left they took into slavery for seventy years.
That was God’s judgement, that was God’s punishment for seventy years but God has a plan to bring them back to Jerusalem and ultimately He does and if you read the books of Ezra and Haggai in the Old Testament, that’s what that whole story’s about, their coming back to the Promised Land.
God brings them back to Jerusalem and the first thing that He wants them to do is to start to build the temple but instead they build their own houses, they look after Number One. The temple, God’s house, lies in ruin and Haggai the prophet, the man of God comes with God’s message, listen to how God puts it through him, this is really powerful stuff, Haggai chapter 1. This is what God had to say:
You people say “Well the time hasn’t come yet to build God’s house but tell me, is it time for you yourselves to be living in your fancy houses while my house lies in ruin? Think about your ways, you’ve planted much but you’ve harvested little; you eat but you’ve never had enough; you drink but you never have your fill; you put on clothes but you’re never warm; you earn wages only to put them in a purse with holes.
Carefully consider your ways, go up into the mountains instead and bring down some timber and build my house, God’s house so that I may take pleasure in it and be honoured” said the Lord, “You expect much but see, it turned out to little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why? Because my house still lies in ruin while each of you is busy with his own house and that’s why the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth it’s crops. I was the one that called the drought on the fields and the mountains, the grain and the wine and the oil and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle and on the labour of your hands.
See, we all somehow want to go our own merry ways and to varying degrees ignore God and His plans and His will. You know why? Cause God’s plans are so often hard, they involve sacrifice, they involve letting go of something we really want on our terms, in our time and picking up something else that He’s calling us to do. Never mind that His plans involve blessing and satisfaction in His provision, all we so often can see is that we want what we want and we want it now. Listen to me:
Unless the Lord builds the house the builder labours in vain.
In other words, ultimately our plans won’t prosper against His, either we’re about building His house and that will prosper or about ourselves. It took me 36 hard years to learn that lesson. Let me ask you again, who is in the driver’s seat of your life, you or God? For unless the Lord builds the house, you and I are labouring in vain.