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In the Driver’s Seat

By Tracy Jessup

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“In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory.”     (Ephesians 1:11-12)

In a sermon entitled, “True Freedom,” John Ortberg associates submitting to the Lordship of Christ to driving a car. He recalls taking their first child home from the hospital after she was born. He and his wife put her in the car seat in the back of the car, and then he got in the front seat to drive. Their newborn daughter was so small even the baby seat was way too big. She looked so fragile to him that he drove home on the freeway going 35 miles per hour with the hazard lights flashing the whole time.

Ortberg says, “That first day, when your kid is in the car with you, is a scary day. Does anybody want to know what the next really scary day is with your kid in the car? It’s when they turn 16, and now you’re handing over the keys. Now they’re moving from the passenger seat, from the ride-along seat, into the driver’s seat. That’s a scary moment…It is a big moment in your life when you hand someone else the keys. Up until now, I’ve been driving. I choose the destination. I choose the route. I choose speed. You’re in the drive-along seat. But if we are to change seats, if you’re going to drive, I have to trust you. It’s all about control. Whoever is in this seat is the person in control.

The context of today’s passage is one in which Paul blesses the Lord for the way in which the Lord has blessed those who are “in Christ.” In Christ, we are made holy (v.4), adopted as God’s children (v. 5), redeemed and forgiven (v. 7), claimed as God’s possession, and marked by the Holy Spirit. (Vv. 11, 13, 14). God has done all of this so that those who have set their hope on Christ, “might live to the praise of his glory” (v. 12).

“The praise of his glory.” That phrase echoes over and over throughout this passage (Vv. 6, 12, 14). As we begin the year 2022, there could not be a more fitting charge than to live our lives to the praise of God’s glory. We are called to a life of praise. And this praise is to be expressed through our words as well as our actions.

Ortberg goes on to say, a lot of people find Jesus handy to have in the car as long as he’s in the passenger’s seat, because something may come up where they require his services… [It’s as if we’re saying] I want you in the car, but I’m not so sure I want you driving. If Jesus is driving, I’m not in charge of my life anymore…I no longer have the right to satisfy every self-centered ambition. No, it’s his agenda. It’s his life…I get out of the driver’s seat and hand the keys over to him. I’m fully engaged. In fact, I’m more alive than I’ve ever been before, but it’s not my life anymore. It’s his life.”

Prayer: Lord, as we begin this new year, help us to remember that only when you are in the driver’s seat can we find out who we are and what we are living for.


Dr. Tracy Jessup serves as vice president for Christian Life and Service and senior minister to the University. He is a graduate of Gardner-Webb with a B.A. in Music and earned his M. Div. degree at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He also teaches in the undergraduate department of religious studies and enjoys the opportunity to serve the local church through interim pastorates, pulpit supply, and preaching revival services. he and his wife, Teresa, have two children, Christian and Anna.

Read more Good Christian News from Dr. Jessup HERE.