The ‘Jesus take the wheel’ meaning resonated with me personally during my husband’s knee replacement surgery and recovery.
When he retired ten years ago, we moved to a small mountain community sixty miles from shopping and the Veteran’s Hospital where he had his surgery. Several years ago, we bought the car of his dreams, our only functioning car. We went everywhere together with him as the designated driver. Occasionally, I would drive locally, but for the most part, he was at the wheel.
Everything changed after his knee surgery. I had to do all the driving in a car I wasn’t familiar with on curvy mountain two-lane roads and on streets in town I had never driven before. On one particular morning, I had to leave home at 6:00 A.M. to pick him up at the VA Hospital. I sat in the driver’s seat and literally prayed, “Jesus take the wheel. I’m depending on you to help me make this difficult journey.”
‘Jesus Take the Wheel’ Meaning
The ‘Jesus take the wheel,’ meaning originated with a song written by Brett James, Hillary Lindsey, and Gordie Sampson recorded by Carrie Underwood. The ballad tells of a mother deep in thought about her difficult year while driving too fast on a snowy Christmas Eve when the car spins out on black ice. Unable to control the car, she throws her hands in the air and cries out for Jesus to take the wheel and help her and her baby in the backseat. When the car finally rests on the side of the road, she ultimately realizes she needs to restore her faith and let Jesus take control of all her life.
What Does It Mean for Jesus to ‘Take the Wheel’?
The song Jesus Take the Wheel resonated with many people who have tried to live their life on their own terms, often with devastating results. Maybe they had never given their heart to Jesus, or at one time knew the comfort of surrendering to Jesus then snatched back control to navigate life themselves. Traveling through life on our own terms will always end in a crash either emotionally, physically, or mentally, but always spiritually.
The Christian life is one of constant submission of our ways to the Lord’s ways. It’s often a tug-of-war between letting Jesus take the wheel in our life and wrestling it away from him thinking we know better than he does what’s best for us. We know there can only be one person in the driver’s seat, but we’re not always willing to let that person be Jesus. We’re often backseat drivers trying to argue with Jesus about how we should live or we push him completely out of our life and take over the wheel ourselves.
The hardest part for my husband during his knee surgery recovery was to let me drive without repeatedly giving me his opinion and directions from the passenger seat. We had many discussions that he had to relax and just let me drive because I was the only one at the time who could safely get us to our destination. I needed his confidence, encouragement, and prayers. He literally had to surrender the wheel and trust me.
It was hard for him to let me take control of the car and it’s just as hard for us to let Jesus safely get us to our destinations in life.
How Can We Let Jesus Take the Wheel in Our Own Lives?
Just like my husband continually struggled with giving up control to me every time we got in the car, giving up control of our life to Jesus is a lifetime daily struggle for all of us. It doesn’t come easy and it’s not instant the moment we become Christians. Being a Christian and living by biblical principles is a continuously evolving process as our faith matures and we learn to trust that God wants the best for us, even when we can’t visibly see or even sense it.
Jesus knew that our humanness would make it extremely difficult for us to turn our lives completely over to him when we couldn’t see him visibly, so he made sure we had ways to communicate with him in our Spirit.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Heb. 11:1 NLT
Establishing a Daily Prayer Life
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jer. 29:11-13 [emphasis added]
Jeremiah 29:11-13 outlines exactly how to know what God’s plans are for us so we can trust that he’s looking out for our best interests when he’s at the wheel. He says to “call on me,” “come and pray to me” then you will “find me.” But he also adds we must be sincerely searching for him with all our heart, not holding anything back.
A daily time with Jesus is essential to the Christian life. That means setting everything aside like phones, computers, TV, and noise. Even getting away from people to a quiet place where you can commune with Jesus with no distractions so you can hear his answers to your prayers. I create a special Jesus spot in our home. I’m distracted easily, so I have my quiet time out on our deck in nice weather, or in the winter my prayer closet is the loft outside my office. I also love to talk with the Lord on a morning walk or even in the shower!
Maybe for you, it means getting up earlier than the family or before you need to get ready for the day. Establish a place and time of day where you can be alone with your Lord and prayerfully ask him questions and be still while he answers.
Studying the Bible
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1
Jesus often speaks to us through his Word, the Bible. It’s impossible to be a faithful Christian and not read your Bible. If we clocked the hours we spend browsing social media or the internet, we would probably be astounded and alarmed at how much time we devote to taking in the world’s words instead of the Lord’s Words.
Do we want the world to take the wheel in our life or Jesus to take the wheel? We would probably say we want Jesus, but does our life reflect that answer? It will if we soak in his wisdom and guidance by reading his words to us every day.
You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others. 2 Tim. 2:2 NLT
Sometimes we’re sidelined in our spiritual life by thinking we don’t need anyone else. We can handle everything life throws at us by ourselves. But we’re made for community. God said in the first Book in the Bible that it’s not good for man to be alone. (Gen. 2:18)
When we need help with our car or around the house, we seek out expert advice, or at least we should. We need to do the same with our spiritual life. We can’t go it alone and expect to grow and mature spiritually. We need to talk with others who have gone before us in the faith and have experienced life. A mentor with wisdom and spiritual maturity can guide and direct us and someday we can be a mentor to others.
Every Christian is in a continual process of learning and growing in the knowledge of Christ. But until that day we meet him face-to-face, we who are further along in our walk with the Lord or have navigated a curvy and bumpy road through a life season, must be willing to intentionally share with others what we do know and what the Lord has done in our lives when we let him take the wheel.
I sign my book Mentoring for All Seasons with ‘Be a mentor, find a mentor.’
Let Go and Let God!
We hear this saying often in sermons and read in blogs and articles and it seems so easy in theory, but we all know how difficult it is when life happens. We want to do something, anything, to feel like we’re making a difference.
It’s exhausting trying to always be in control. Jesus wants us to rest in the assurance that he has everything under control. God is our hope and promise. He is concerned about our daily needs, as well as our problems. He sees the big picture and the road ahead and knows what’s best for us. We need to rest in him, obey him, and seek his will daily. We need to give up our tight grip and let Jesus take the wheel.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matt. 11:28
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Phil. 3:20-21
Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and award-winning author of 20 books. Her passion is to mentor other women in sharing their life experiences and God’s faithfulness. Janet’s new release is Everyday Brave: Living Courageously As a Woman of Faith available at Amazon, Christianbook.com, Barnes and Noble, and signed at author’s website. She is also the author of Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness; Forsaken God? Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten; Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?; Dear God They Say It’s Cancer; Dear God, He’s Home!; Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter; Face-to-Face Bible study Series; and Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, & Maintain a Mentoring Ministry Resources. Janet is the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries. Visit Janet and sign up for her weekly blog and free online newsletter at womantowomanmentoring.com. Join Janet on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram.