“Most Likely to be Late to Graduation.” That was the title lovingly given me by my fellow classmates as a high school senior. At the time, it was laughable. Real life hadn’t set in. It was still largely permissible and, well, cute to be fashionably late.
But there was to be a day of reckoning, when my problem with punctuality would weigh on me like a wet, super-sized blanket that I would struggle endlessly to crawl out from under. As an adult, I found that my perennial lateness elicited a different response from those around me: annoyance, intolerance, even disbelief that one could be so incompetent and inconsiderate.
When my daughter hit elementary school, my infectious lateness began to ooze ugliness like never before. For the first time in my life, my weakness directly affected another’s reputation—read: report card. Ouch. Before that point, it was my name that my irresponsibility tarnished. I harbored the guilt that resulted from inconveniencing and disappointing others when I was late, and I could live with that (however non-abundantly).
But once it began to reflect poorly on my precious child, the burden was amplified to larger than life!
I struggled in vain to control my lateness and manage my time, all the while accumulating tardies for my daughter in the school office. Every time I had to sign that “late sheet”, I condemned myself endlessly. What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you just get it together like EVERYONE else and be on time? Sure, there were other parents who I would frequently see screeching into the parking lot at 7:59 am…but nonetheless I felt alone. The wet blanket had swallowed me; I felt hopeless. Embarrassed that I could NOT get this issue under control. Guilty to be leaving a less-than-exemplary legacy for my kids.
Oh, I tried prayer. But the trouble was, unknowingly, I was clinging to control of my sad situation, and working against my Heavenly Father’s gentle efforts to loosen my grip and take my yoke. Somehow, I reasoned, I could lick this problem. I could figure out the magic formula and never be late again.
I dissected the situation and attacked it from specific angles: I tried calculating departure times with just-in-case-cushioning. I tried doing things the night before. I tried to shake the “just one more thing” mentality. I tried deep breathing. But I continued to be late every time I stepped foot out my door.
One afternoon when I was running errands, despite all the defeat I was experiencing in my pursuit for punctuality, I bought once again into the lie that I would ingeniously beat my own system and this time, be prompt to pick up my kids. As I walked triumphantly toward the store exit, something caught my eye. The minutes evaporated…and suddenly a distracted glance at my watch revealed the truth—I was going to be late. There was no way I could make it from my current location to my kids in the amount of time remaining.
I rushed out of the store and hightailed it out of the parking garage, still clinging to a shred of hope that I could manipulate reality and make it clear across town in record time. That’s when it happened: a full-on panic attack, right there on the highway. Hyperventilating, I realized all at once that I COULD NOT DO IT. I just couldn’t. As absurd as it sounded to me, and likely to everyone else on the planet, I couldn’t be on time.
I needed the Lord to take over.
If I’ve ever had a Jesus Take the Wheel (Carrie Underwood) moment, this was it! I was stuck–incapable of pulling myself out of this slimy pit of lateness.
It was then that the trajectory of my life-lived-late changed. With eyes blurred by tears, I surrendered, right there in my car. Lord, take over. I CANNOT be on time without You. And He did! And I was—brace yourself—ON TIME! He parted that sea of cars before me, and set me sailing toward my destination (at the speed limit, mind you), in what I maintain was a miraculous, heavenly pat on the back for having finally hit my knees in utter desperation before my God.
Since that day, it’s been my morning ritual to surrender my hours to the Creator of time, and humbly ask Him to direct my steps as I go from place to place. I haven’t attained punctuality perfection, but my time is His now, and I am striving in His strength, not my own. And that makes all the difference! We’ve all had moments when we realize that we are flailing, caught in a downward spiral and cannot pull ourselves back up, despite our best efforts. This is by design…our Heavenly Father created us to need a Savior. In the big things, and in the small.
Lord, thank You for creating us to need You, and for supplying timely reminders of this in our lives. Take the wheel, Lord, and direct us in Your will. Amen.
Come to the River…
“Direct my steps by Your word, And let no iniquity have dominion over me.” Psalm 119:33 (NKJV)
“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” Psalm 40:2 (NIV)
When in your life have you come to the end of yourself, needing God to take the wheel? How were things different for you going forward?