I’ve always enjoyed driving, despite the ever-growing volume of traffic on the roads (highways.) Sometimes, I even find it relaxing.
On regular journeys, I have landmarks I look out for as a way of making the journey pass more quickly: simple things such as a particularly attractive building, a strangely shaped tree or a favourite quickly glimpsed view.
However, the bit of any journey that I dread is when I arrive somewhere and need to park my car. I dislike the tight turns in multistorey car parks (parking garages) and the way that the size of spaces hasn’t kept pace with the way cars have got larger over time.
I can, very occasionally, drive straight into a space and position myself centrally at the first attempt but if I decide to reverse into a space, I simply don’t have the coordination to turn the steering wheel the correct way to manoeuvre the car backwards, while, at the same time, checking my mirror.
When I collected my current car from the dealers, the salesman was very keen to show me how to use its self-park feature to reverse park into a space parallel to a kerb. This involved stopping beside the vehicle in front of the chosen space, selecting P then taking my hands off the steering wheel completely and letting the car reverse itself into the space.
I found this so disconcerting when I tried it with the salesman beside me and on the dealer’s forecourt, that I’ve never attempted it again since that day five years ago!
There’s so much to consider when parking. Am I in the centre of the space between the (often faded) painted lines or am I at a crazy angle which stops the driver or passengers from getting to the vehicle in the adjacent space? Will I be able to open my door to get out without scraping the paintwork of the neighbouring car? Will I actually be able to get out of the driver’s door or will I need to manoeuvre myself out like an unwieldy octopus, via the passenger’s door?
I’m on a journey in my Christian life. It’s full of twists and turns, adventures and challenges as I try to find that one space in God’s kingdom that’s been prepared specifically for me.
I sometimes feel as though I’m driving endlessly round a car park searching. Which space is the most accessible? Is the ‘easiest to get into’ space necessarily the one I should choose? Am I (or more specifically my ego!) too big to fit into the space? Or do I see myself as too small to warrant taking up a space?
It sometimes feels as though I cannot even reach the spaces. I know they’re on the levels above – and below – where I am but I somehow keep following the routes which lead to dead ends.
When I think I’ve found a space which I feel I might fit into, can I really trust my sensors as I park myself there? They’re telling me I’m safe but it can seem as though I’m getting closer and closer to an obstacle which could damage me.
I need to have faith that I’ll be brought into just the right space at the right time. The perfect space. A place of total safety. It’s even safe (though still scary!) to take my hands off the steering wheel and allow God to take over the steering. In fact, that’s the very safest way to park.
While others round me screech round the tight turns, move forwards, reverse, move forwards again, occasionally abandon spaces or scrape the walls or block the paths of others, I can simply glide into that one place where God wants me to be at this time in my journey with Him.
I know that I need to move on to emptying the boot (trunk) of the car and sorting out all those things which I carry with me and which can weigh me down. But for today, I’ll simply sit quietly where I am and give thanks for this space and this journey.