Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:28–29
“Jesus take the wheel!”
Does this phrase speak your heart right now? So many things are out of your control or just out of control and you’ve had enough! Maybe 2020 has you feeling overwhelmed, out of control, constantly on the edge and longing for rest and relief.
“Jesus take the wheel” became an infamous phrase in 2005 resonating with hearts everywhere. Fresh off her win of the reality show "American Idol," Carrie Underwood recorded the song for her first album. However, the songwriters — Brett James, Hillary Lindsey and Gordie Sampson — did not fathom the significance of this song when they wrote it. “Jesus, take the wheel / Take it from my hands / 'Cause I can't do this on my own / I'm letting go / So give me one more chance / And save me from this road I'm on”
These words give voice to the depths of souls overwhelmed by life that is spinning out of their control.
Oftentimes, it's only when we’re at the end of our rope or our life is spinning out of our control like a car on black ice that we cry out to God for help.
But what are we actually asking God for when we pray the words “Jesus take the wheel” or something like that? Time and again, what we mean is, “Jesus, rescue me from my circumstances or the consequences of my choices. Please make it all better! Make it all go away!”
Jesus’ words in Matt 11:28-29 beckon us to come when we are burdened because He is actually able to provide us with rest, relief and rescue. He gives rest, though, when we come under “his yoke." To be under the “yoke” of Jesus is to come under his control, for Him to take the wheel. A yoke was used to lead and direct oxen or cattle for field work. Our assumption is that our rest, relief and rescue come when our circumstances change or when the consequences of our choices go away. We believe that all will be better when life is back under our control, back to “normal.” That is exactly what Jesus came to save us from … our control.
A couple years ago, I saw a meme of a person driving a car and the back wheel had come off and was rolling away. The caption on the picture said, “Jesus, when I said take the wheel, I didn’t mean that one!”
This meme pointedly confronts our expectation that Jesus change our circumstances so then we can have rest and remain in control. We love Savior Jesus. “Rescue me from these bad things in my life!” We to prefer to avoid Lord Jesus. “If I give him control then I won’t be able to do whatever I want, whenever I want. AND I will have to take responsibility for my actions.” Friends, you must understand this, Jesus will not be your Savior if you will not trust Him as your Lord.
If Jesus is going to take the wheel, we must let him take control of us. He promises to rescue us, give us rest and relief with His gentle and humble control in the storms of emotions, circumstances and people that are out of control. You will never find the peace, and rest, relief and rescue you are looking for as long as you expect it to come from your circumstances. You will become depressed, discouraged, bitter and angry as long you expect your rest to come through your circumstances or the people in your life to go your way. This is precisely what Jesus came to save us from … our control.
Rest, relief and rescue only come in surrender to God’s control. As Craig Groeschel states, “God can do more with your surrender than you can do with your control.” You will have His power when you are powerless. Even though life is out of control, there will be rest under His control. When you surrender to His control you will find love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness coming out of you regardless of the circumstance, people or emotions swirling out of control in your life.
Friends, Jesus offers you rest from your stress, relief from your burdens, rescue from your darkness if you let Him lead you. He beckons you to come. He has proven that He is good, loving, gentle and humble by going to the cross for you, by being forsaken by God and going through Hell for you. You make your life worse by clinging to the steering wheel of you own control, doing things your way. You will not know all He has for you as savior if He is not your Lord. Rest, relief and rescue are found in surrender. Right now, He beckons you to come once again or for the first time and find rest. Pray anew or for the first time, “Jesus, take the wheel, Take it from my hands, 'Cause I can't do this on my own, I'm letting go …”
Scott Barber is senior pastor at Grace Community Church in Worthington.