This weeks prompt is a quote by Diane Ackerman, “I don’t want to be a passenger in my own life…”
Living in China, it is easy for me to think of being a passenger on a train, sitting by the window, watching the world go by. Is this is what it is like to be a passenger in my own life? To sit and simply watch my life pass me by? Back to trains. I love the long train rides, as it is a chance to read and sleep, and read some more. No Internet. No patients. No language study. No phone calls. Well, maybe some text messages (that is, if my cell phone is turned on). And, I can always do some language study or practice if I want to engage in conversation. But for the most part, I look forward to the relaxation of the train ride. If this was to be an everyday occurrence, I am not so sure I would want this – to ride and watch the world go by.
When reading the above quote, I thought of two things. I can be the passenger, or I can be the driver. If I am the passenger, does that make me passive? Or obnoxious like a back seat driver? And, if I am the driver, is that like the person who is a control-freak, in the driver’s seat, not listening to the passengers as he/she goes careening down the highway of life?
I want a balance. I want to be in control, yet I don’t want full control. I made some bad decisions in the past and even though they aren’t a problem any more, I still had to suffer the consequences of those decisions. So I don’t want to be in full control. And, yet, I don’t want to just watch my life pass me by. There is too much to do, and too much to live for. I want to make an impact in the world. Several years ago, I used to watch the evening news and just cry about wars, famine, terror, and poverty in the world. God challenged me to get out from in front of the TV, to make an impact. And when I was in college, I had these ideals of wanting to change the world. So now, even though I can’t change the entire world, I can have an impact in one small part of it, with Jesus as my Guide.
There is this story of two active and involved single women, Mary and her sister Martha. Mary “is” while Martha “does”. “To be” or “to do”? Well, I am definitely a Martha! I am happiest when I am doing, and doing many different things at once. I like to see things get done, to get things accomplished. I am very good at doing, and I enjoy helping others. The drawback in doing all the time, is that sometimes I can feel overburdened, overworked, and overwhelmed. What started out as a joy to work and help others has, at times, become a chore, and has made me come to the point where sometimes I want to just give up. While we are called to ‘bear one another’s burdens’, we are not asked to meet everyone’s needs, and we are not called to do more than what he asks of us. To realize this, takes a lot of responsibility off of my shoulders. So often, women are encouraged to do good works to show their love for God. But is that what God really wants? Does he really want us to work so hard that it takes the joy out of service to him?
He created us for relationship -- relationship with him and with others. I think that what he wants even more than our service, is for us to spend time with him, to get to know him, to enjoy his creation, to find out his perfect will for our lives, and to bathe in the intimacy of his presence. He delights in us, he wants to give us good gifts, and he wants to reveal his will for us, but first we need to spend time with him. As an outpouring of his love for me, I want to express that in service to him. But it won’t be any good if I don’t first spend the time with him and get my priorities and motivations straight. This intimacy with God can be very threatening, as it means revealing all the hidden secrets, insecurities and ugliness in my life. It is being transparent to the very source of Light in the world. And this can be very scary. But this is what God desires most. And even if we aren’t all aware of it, it is what we desire as well.
So lately, I feel that I am being drawn to become more like Mary, to be, not to just be a passive passenger, but to sit at the foot of Jesus, and just be with him; to spend time with him, get to know him, and be restored by him. It is a scary road for me, to trust him with all my insecurities and failings, and it threatens the very core of my being. But several years ago, I trusted him with my life, so I don’t know what my hesitation is now.
As I step forward into his presence, I feel the peace and contentment of just being. I trust that the doing will become the natural outflow of this new phase in my relationship withJesus, but won’t reflect the busyness of the way I have been living. Joan Baez said, " You don't get to choose how you're going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you're going to live." So am I driver or passenger? I feel like both. I am the driver in that I have choices and decisions, and I feel guided by my GPS unit, Jesus, who is in control of my life. And, at the same time, I feel like I am the passenger, resting in Jesus while he is at the controls. One thing for sure is that I am definitely not just going to be the passenger on the train who watches my life pass me by.... hmmmm... maybe I should become the tour guide... ☺