Written by Nupur James
“Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” —Corrie Ten Boom.
I have reflected on this quote for quite some time, wondering if I honestly understand the meaning of letting God ‘steer the wheel’ of my life. I acknowledge that it has been very hard for me to let God fully control my life, though I am comforted by the certainty that I am not the only one who feels the difficulty of the task. In the past, when I have taken situations into my hands, I usually mess them up pretty badly. I struggle to have patience.
Patience, according to a quick Google search, is “to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.” It is a word that I had trouble understanding the meaning of until I really did. I would get so upset if things did not go my way. Finding a new community and building new relationships when I first moved from India to Canada required a lot of patience. Patience towards myself as I adjusted, and patience towards the new people I was meeting. Sometimes relationships were built instantly, but others took time and effort. I had to learn to trust God while waiting for a new country to feel like home.
I further learned this important lesson of patience and relying on God through being rejected in a relationship, and feeling unloved and unappreciated. That relationship required me to lean on God more than ever. I cried my heart out to the Lord because I had no other way to deal with the situation. I cried, “I have done everything in my capacity! Why do they still not love me, not accept me?” Slowly, I heard God say, “Be patient and love.” Again I cried, “What does that mean? Have I not been patient or loving? What more do I need to do?” Then slowly God showed me that the people who reject us are often the people who have been hurt and broken badly. They have so much brokenness in their hearts that they withdraw when they feel loved.
This answer, though slowly and painfully learned, made me think about the love that the Bible talks about—the pure, unconditional form of love. I was reminded that Jesus loves me with an unconditional love, a love without expectation. Am I honestly loving people the way God has called me to? It is easy to love the person who loves me back. But God taught me to rely on him and meditate on his unconditional love so that I can love others in the same manner. I must learn to love the people who reject me in the same way I love the people who accept me. This lesson is constantly reinforced while working in church ministry. I am challenged to be patient and to love unconditionally, as I work with people who have different views than myself, and even different views than the larger Christian community. This whole concept of loving without conditions and expectations is what helps me to be a good leader to God’s people.
Perhaps the final part in this double-edged lesson of patience and unconditional love is the cultivation of an attitude of gratefulness. It is an attitude that has allowed me to grow and become who I am today. I am grateful that I am alive, grateful that I have wonderful family, friends and colleagues who love and encourage me. I have tried to be grateful in situations even when I don’t see any point in being grateful, situations that seem to hold nothing good in them; I still try to be thankful for the experience. In the midst of the difficulty of this task, I fight to believe that as a Christian, Christ works all the things we do for our benefit and growth, so that we become the people God wants us to be.
When we don’t feel like loving people, we must love without boundaries and expectations because we are loved in this way by Christ. When we don’t feel like praying, we must pray hard, because though it may not change our situation, it will change our heart. In situations which make us feel ungrateful, we must be grateful because we know all the things have worked to make us who we are. Let God be the centre of it all and let patience, unconditional love and gratefulness steer our lives.