I know next to nothing about how an automobile works. I was taught by my father to change the oil, change the spark plugs, change the shock absorbers, and check the fluids in my 1970 Plymouth Duster when I started college. That car kept me until I married my wife in 1974 and then we bought our first new car together, a Ford Granada, one of the biggest lemons that Ford produced over the years. Within two years, it had been broken down more than it was running and when the transmission went out on Trail Ridge Road in Colorado while on vacation, we traded it in for a Plymouth Volare station wagon. That car was a good one and lasted us years and was driven over 150,000 miles before it was traded in.
Automobiles have changed a lot over the 40+ years I have been driving. Once the average person could be a shade tree mechanic and work on them out in the yard or in the garage. A basic set of tools was all one needed to keep your car in running order. Now, I cannot even change the oil in my car. Everything is computerized or placed in strange locations that requires dis-assembly of the engine practically in order to reach the part needed to change. We depend greatly on our local car dealership that has a fine and honest service department to keep us on the road.
I especially keep a watch on my tires as I cannot stand to be stranded on the side of the highway with a flat tire. I would rather invest in a new set of tires than risk having one of them go flat on me while driving on some lonely road somewhere. The spare tire in my trunk is very important, or course, but I must confess that I rarely check it. For all I know, it could be flat right now. It is one of those small tires that are designed to get one to a place to fix the flat tire and not to take you a long way down the road. It is still a very important item to have in the trunk despite its size.
Come to think of it, I rarely think about that spare tire. It is always there, I know, but I hardly even think to look at it or check to see if it has air in it. I just drive daily everywhere I want to go and if the need to use the spare time comes up, and I hope it does not, then I will get it out and put it on the car to take me to the nearest place so I can get the real tire fixed and back on my car.
Most parts of the car are that way. We do not think about them until something breaks down, causing us distress. Some people view God in that same way. They rarely think about God until something breaks down in their lives. They know that God is somewhere out of sight and that God can be called on in times of emergencies or distress but until then they prefer to keep God at a distance. Perhaps that is why some do not go to church to try to be in closer communication with God. It may be that they do not want to think about what a relationship with God would involve. They simply want God to be there for them when they need God.
There was a television program that aired back in the black and white days, in the 60s I think, called, "My Mother, the Car." It was a comedy about a man whose mother was reincarnated in the form of an automobile and he bought the car and soon learned how to communicate with his mother through the car. It was a situation comedy, of course, so it brought a lot of laughs concerning the jams that the car owner found himself in as he talked to the car and no one else knew what he was doing.
The car may be a good metaphor for one's relationship with God. Just as the spare tire is a part of the car that we rarely think about, the steering wheel is one that we cannot escape if we are going to drive a car. When we enter the car and begin to start it, we put our hands on the steering wheel and cannot let go until we turn the car off and exit it. It is at the center of our attention at all times. We must turn it and use it to make the car go where we would like it to go. If God were more like a steering wheel to us, then God would be at the center of our lives at all times. God would be important enough to us that we would want God to be the tool we would use to direct our lives where we want to go in life.
So, have you ever thought about whether God is more like a spare tire or a steering wheel to you? The answer we formulate to that question may reveal the importance of our relationship to God in our lives and how it is demonstrated by the way we live our lives. It may indicate what we do with our time and where we go when we have free time and how we treat others we meet daily. If God is at the center of our lives, then we would be aware of how to live so that that central truth would shine through in everything we do.