A news item from last week attracted my attention. It contained the story of a self-driving car speeding along the QE 2 highway south of Edmonton. The occupant of the driver’s seat had apparently put the car on auto-pilot, then reclined his seat to take a nap while the vehicle sailed along at about 140 km/h! Like everyone, I imagine, I was aghast, and the account left me shaking my head at how that so-called driver could have been so thoughtless.
At the same time, though, the report left me wondering if we might not each do well to ask ourselves: in what ways am I like that man asleep behind the wheel? He relinquished responsibility and allowed the computerized technology of the car to take control, obviously at enormous risk to himself and others. How might I be placing my life on auto-pilot, and relinquishing responsibility by allowing internal programming to determine its trajectory? Am I carried along by unexamined assumptions without thought to where they might take me? Do my desires and expectations take control and determine the direction I follow? Are the external programmers of popular opinion or the latest fads defining how I navigate life’s inevitable twists and turns?
According to that news item, the one who should have been actually driving the car was jolted awake by the siren of a police car. I think it is fairly broadly accepted, now, that the pandemic has shaken all of us awake from an unexamined life. It has been a loud call to wake up from life placed on auto-pilot. At the same time, I hope that a lesson learned is that the wake-up call is not to be too hastily received as an occasion to place only ourselves back in control. Rather, the awakening should be to the fact that we need God with us in the driver’s seat. The Lord, who loves us beyond imagining, has much to teach us about how we must direct our lives.