Jeff Gordon, Jesus & me?

by Crystal Kupper,
Crystal’s Cliffnotes
Salem Writer

If you haven’t seen last week’s video of NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon pranking a car salesman, you really should. (Yes, I am telling you that something NASCAR-associated is worth watching, though I typically agree with the African-American comedian who once said, “If I wanted to watch a bunch of white people go around in circles, I’d go to Wal-Mart on Saturday morning.”)

If you don’t feel like watching it, here’s the gist: Jeff Gordon disguises himself as a suburban dorky dad who pretends to be slightly afraid to drive a powerful Chevy Camaro at a car lot. The salesman “convinces” him to give it a go. Gordon drives terribly at first, playing the part of a mini-van owner who isn’t used to all the horsepower.

And then things get really funny.

The salesman attempts to stay polite at first, but as the ride gets crazier and crazier, he begins to lose it. Threats, bleeped-out swear words and pure panic do nothing to slow Gordon down, of course. Only when they get back to the lot and the salesman threatens to call police does the professional driver rip off his mustache and yell, “It’s okay! It’s okay! I’m Jeff Gordon!” The cameramen emerge from their hiding places and the salesman quickly realizes his life was never in any danger in the first place.

In fact, the man laughs and asks Gordon if they can do it again!

Something about the video stuck in my brain for a few days afterward, and not because I’m a NASCAR — or Pepsi! — fan.

Then it hit me: I do the exact same thing on a fairly regular basis.

No, I don’t go on secret joy rides with Jeff Gordon (breathe easy, husband). But how often does my life feel out of control, like it’s being driven by someone who has no idea what they’re doing? How often do I face some unexpected problem and try to threaten, curse, panic or stomp my way out of it?

Similarly, why did the once-panicky salesman change his tune once he learned the identity of his driver? Why was he suddenly eager to go through the exact same wild ride that just minutes before he was swearing about?

The answer: he now knew who the driver was.

Jeff Gordon gets paid to know every square inch of his cars. He knows precisely what they can and can’t do. He could fix or tweak any detail on its body or engine in a heartbeat. Not for even one second were they in any danger, even though Gordon was pulling maneuvers that would probably kill the rest of us.

Here’s the reality: as a Christian, I handed Jesus the keys to my car around 23 years ago. He — not me — has his foot on the gas, brake and steering wheel, controlling exactly where my life goes.

And yet my behavior often reveals the true state of my heart. Despite Jesus knowing every square inch of my personality, fears and capabilities; despite the fact that he created me and loves me more than Jeff Gordon loves his own car; despite the fact that in no time am I ever in any true danger or alone, I more than once have acted just like that salesman.

Once the crazy ride is over and Jesus makes everything clear — “It’s okay! It’s okay! It’s me, Jesus!” — do I breathe easy and even ask to do it again. But why do I wait so long? After all, I don’t even have the excuse of not knowing who my driver is. And yet I don’t trust him sometimes to do exactly what he says he can.

This year, we’re facing some big changes. A move across the ocean and a new baby, for starters. And those are just the situations we know about! It already feels slightly overwhelming.

Yet today, I resolve to trust my driver, not waiting until the ride is over to laugh, enjoy and learn.

And now just for fun….if Jesus had a license….

How about you? Who’s driving your car?

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