Driving in Reverse


I drove through the first few decades of my life in reverse gear.

During those years that I drove in reverse, the view I saw through the windshield was not the place where I was heading, but the place where I ended up.

Then one day I found myself in the middle of nowhere. As I surveyed the unfolding scenery through my windshield, I saw that it was unlikely that I would happen upon a happy destination unless I changed course. So, I pulled over to the side of the road and gave serious thought to the question, “How did I end up here?”  I also reflected on my approach to the road trip of my life, and I uncovered some critical errors that needed immediate correction..

First, I had to turn my car around so I could see where I was going. Second, I had to select a desirable destination. Third, I had to aim my vehicle in the direction of my target destination and start heading that way.

But even after I turned the car around, spread maps all over the front seat, and mashed the pedal to the floor, I kept ending up in places I never intended to go. Whenever I located a desirable destination on the map, it seemed impossible to get there from here. But here was so lousy, my new favorite destination had become Anywhere-but-here.  One way or another, I was determined to find an escape route from here to Anywhere-but-here.

But it was no use. I had to pull over again and re-evaluate my approach to the road trip of my life.

It was there on the side of the road that several things occurred to me:

  • Someone else is driving this car—and with purposeful intention.
  • He has a map, and it isn’t one of the many on my front seat.
  • He has already chosen a destination for me, and He has meticulously mapped out a most unlikely route to get me where He wants me to go.

I realized that, as it was for Abraham, so it is for all of us. God directs each one of us to get up and go to the place that He will show us. His chosen destination for us is unspeakably good, but His appointed route can be very confusing and the journey can be exceedingly hard. Even so, we can always be confident that infinite love leads us down every mile of our appointed road. And, if we keep our eyes open, there are many wonders He will reveal to us along the way.

You might see me out on the road today as I continue my trip.  If we strike up a conversation at the gas pump, I might tell a story from the road or share an insight from my journey.  But as for where I’m headed and how I’m going to get there, I think I’ll just leave that to Him.

What have you learned about routes and destinations on the road trip of your life?

14 thoughts on “Driving in Reverse

  1. Much of my life has been set to the music of The Animals…

    “We Gotta Get Outta This Place”/

    Now, I’m at what seems to be my last stand. It doesn’t matter how I got here; I have to make the best of this position, with the strength I have left.

    There are times when pain obscures the Love, but I have to remember that it’s just me – the Love is still there, but it is not necessarily a soft Love (just as Aslan is not a tame lion. I suppose).

    Sorry, Dave. I’m rambling. Long and rather awful night. Great post, though.

    • Andrew, I am sorry about the awful night you had.
      “There are times when pain obscures all love.” Yes.Intense pain can scream so loudly that it dominates our experience and crowds out all other thoughts. But you’re right. The love is still there–a deep, wise, eternal love–love in Person.
      And what you said reminded me to resist preoccupation with how I ended up here (the past) and simply be present with God in the present, walking out faith one step at a time. I appreciate your comments, and I thank you for making your stand every day. Your words always provide a perspective that I need.

  2. Great post, Dave. I loved this line: “Even so, we can always be confident that infinite love leads us down every mile of our appointed road.”

    Sometimes, it’s only the choosing to believe that He loves me passionately and completely that gets me beyond the rough spots on my life-road. If I didn’t believe that, I think I would have given up long ago.

    • Thank you, Jeanne, for letting me know what spoke to you in this post. And thank you for being an example for me by choosing daily to embrace the truth of God’s passionate love for us, even in those difficult times when we struggle to see or feel His eternal love.

  3. What have I learned?
    Detours. There are always detours.
    And I don’t like detours.
    I like to map out a trip, know my course, and stick to it. Coming up on a detour frustrates me because, all of a sudden, I don’t know where I’m going. Of course, the person who put up all those “This way” and “Now this way” arrow signs knows … but hey, I gotta trust somebody else to get me where I want to go.
    Yeah, there’s an analogy there.

    • I am honored that someone who’s written thousands and thousands of words in the last several days would type out a few more in reply to this post. And they’re very good words, too. Detours. Yes. Trusting somebody else who knows why the this-way-that-way signs and blinking arrows and barricades and striped barrels are there. And, you know, Beth, I just want to get past those detours as fast as I can, so I can return to my “known” route. But the detour is part of the journey and–as far as becoming who God intends for us to be–the journey is part of the destination. You have spoken wisdom to my heart. I think God is telling me to keep my eyes open while on the detour and to embrace all that God intends to accomplish through it. Great analogy.

      • You know I wouldn’t miss reading your blog post for anything, Dave. Your insights encourage me. I sometimes may come a bit late to the reading, but I won’t miss it.

  4. My license tag says “WUTARYD.” I’ve only had two friends figure it out, the rest guess really strange things that I would never put on the back of my car. Anyhow, it fits your post and it would fit perfect on that red car in your illustration and it fits what i say a lot of days about this journey called life.

    I’m still learnING so I’ll get back to you later about what I’ve “learnED” … still a ride in progress.

    • OK, you pulled me in. “WUt ARe You Doing” ??? It’s a reach, I know. If it’s not right, please give me the phone numbers of your two friends 🙂
      I appreciate what you are saying about being in the process of learnING on the road. It never stops, does it?
      Thanks, Kim, for refusing to answer my question and for offering a brain-teasing puzzle instead! That’s a lot like life.

      • What a ride, Dave! What. A. Ride. Named the first book I ever wrote by this title (it was about raising teens), then tucked it away because it was so bad. Maybe one day I’ll pull it out and submit it under its more creative name: WutARyd. 🙂

      • Kim,

        THANKS for solving the license plate puzzle! It seems obvious now.

        You can publish that book on raising teens anytime now. I’ve still got a lot of teen parenting to do.

        Oh, and how about this license plate puzzle. I was once driving behind a red BMW convertible with the license plate AUDLOX. I only figured it out when I noticed the driver was a woman with blond hair.


        On 1/23/2014 7:04 PM, Drawing from Experience wrote > New comment on your post “Driving in Reverse” > Author : skimhenson (IP: , cpe-098-122-025-086.sc.res.rr.com) > E-mail : skimhenson@earthlink.net > URL : http://gravatar.com/skimhenson > Whois : http://whois.arin.net/rest/ip/

  5. Goldilocks? Is AU an abbreviation for gold? Or is this one a long shot too?

    One of our favorite things to do is solve license tags. I’ve actually made John pull into parking lots to ask someone about their tag if we couldn’t figure it out. So, beware if you get a vanity tag, you could be stalked.

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