When Your Steering Wheel Falls Off on the Freeway of Life
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15
Rushing out of the house, coffee cup and briefcase in hand, I was stretching the limits of efficient time management. I was off and running to a business meeting seventy minutes away—and like a real “type A”, I had about sixty minutes to get there.
The southern California freeway traffic was flowing fast for a Monday morning. As I finished a call on my cell phone and set it down, I placed my right hand back on the steering wheel and I noticed an unusual heaviness in my hands. “Whaaaaaat? Oh…Noooooo!” I cried out.
My steering wheel had come completely off the column!
My first thought was, I’m going to get hurt today!
I tried in vain to replace the displaced wheel, but it was way too dangerous a task. I quickly discerned any attempt could send me swerving all over the freeway. My heart was pounding like a bass drum in my chest and for a moment it seemed like time was rolling in slooooow mooootion. And, then – snap! It was moving in hyper speed as I realized the gravity of my situation – I had absolutely no control!
In my mind, I imagined putting on the brakes and knew that without any steering ability, I could end up all over the freeway. So, I kept my foot on the gas to avoid being rear-ended by another driver and began to pray. My life and safety were no longer in my power. I cried out to the Lord, “God, I can’t do anything. It’s up to you.”
I began to drift left into the next lane and then another and miraculously did not hit another car. And then, I was in the fast lane. Whoopee! I don’t know where all the cars were for those split seconds. It was as if angels were guiding me across that treacherous route. Perhaps they were.
Still traveling at about fifty miles per hour, my car crossed onto the left shoulder, the front tire barely skimming the concrete safety divider that separated us from the southbound freeway. At that moment, I somehow knew it was time to slam on the brakes. I did and burned about twenty feet of rubber in the process as my car came to a screeching halt. There was not one scratch on me or the car.
Incredulous and trembling, I was suddenly aware of the loud whoosh, whoosh, whoosh of the cars passing me at seventy-plus miles per hour. Dropping the steering wheel into my lap, I raised my shaking hands and yelled, “Hey, you people! Slow down! Don’t you know? You’re really not in control of anything! You’re not going anywhere unless God lets you!”
In my mind, I imagined God saying to me,
“That’s right, Danna. Every breath you take,
every step you make is only by my grace”.
God captured my attention that morning. I was shaken by the possibility that it could have been my very last day on earth. All sorts of questions were swimming in my head. Had I lived it to the fullest? Did my life really have purpose or meaning? Was I wasting too much time and energy on things that had little eternal value?
That day, God more than nudged me to take an inventory of my life and I faced the truth. I’d been living out of control and without focus for far too long. Sitting there on the freeway, waiting for the tow truck to arrive, I made a commitment to live a more balanced and intentional life.