Sunday, 1/7/18 – Let Jesus Help You Steer

We were traveling back home last weekend from Southern Illinois where we were visiting family, and I saw a billboard on the side of the road that asked a single question:

“Do you look to God as your steering wheel, or as your spare tire?”

That really struck a chord with me.  What a great analogy!  Or you could say it another way:

“Do you look to God as your guiding light, or that spare flashlight when the power goes out?

Either way, the point is simple – Do you look to God to lead you through life, every day in everything, rather than just when an emergency happens?

Do you look to Him to steer your life, do you look to Him as your guiding light, especially through the unknown and uncertainty of life, even when you don’t understand?

Do you let Christ guide you through the reality of life? Because that’s what today is about – the reality of God and His Light, His Truth.

The Epiphany.

Epiphany is defined as a manifestation, a materialization of a new reality. It’s not just a symbol or a concept or an idea, but an intuitive insight into the reality or essential meaning of something.

The Magi encountered this. They didn’t know what they were going to encounter on their journey, or exactly who they were looking for. They were traveling through unknown lands and encountering some dangerous people along the way, but through it all they let His Light guide them, through the trials, through the deceit of Herod, all the way to the One they went to see – God manifested as a human, a little baby, the One to save us all.

And so, this was the new reality and essential meaning of this, that God is not a god somewhere far off in the heavens and the stars. But no, He is here, in the flesh, on this earth, helpless and in the arms of a humble woman, a modest carpenter by her side, in a dusty, backwater town in the desert.

The last piece of the Epiphany definition says that it’s usually initiated by some simple, homely, commonplace occurrence.

The birth of a baby to a poor couple just trying to make ends meet – nothing more simple and commonplace than that.

But it’s a new reality. God materialized as man. Showing that He is one of us, and we are one with Him. He’s come here to save us, to be our guiding light, our steering wheel through life, so to speak.

Rather than being there, waiting to hear from us when we’re in trouble, when we’re complaining about the lot we’ve been given, He’s coming to us in the flesh, in the midst of it all, where He will never leave us, providing a means to save us through His grace, through His touch, through His Presence. This is what is so awesome about all this, how He became one of us.

And then not only His sacrifice and the effect that His death and resurrection has on our eternal salvation, but how he continues to be here with us through the Sacraments and the Eucharist and in our faith today and every day, here to help guide us, to help steer us through life. If we let Him.

Do you look for His help?  When you’re going through something, or simply trying to keep up with life, do you look to Him as your guide, your light, your rock knowing that no matter what life throws at you or takes away, that nothing can take away Jesus, your faith, and His Love and Mercy, the Truth of what He offers us?

I’m throwing a lot of questions out there today, but it’s good to start off a new year with questions. It’s good to not only reflect and learn from and be thankful for the year gone by, but it’s good to ask questions about the year ahead.

Real questions. Not, what is my New Year’s resolution? But questions like Am I headed in the right direction? What is my relationship with Christ like?  Do I even have a relationship with Him? Are there things going on in my life, a chaos and anxiety, that I just cannot seem to shake?

 Is Jesus my steering wheel through life, or my spare tire?

In my own life, I’ve experienced that in the times I look to God to help me steer, my life has more balance and I’m able to better navigate the good and the bad.

If we look to Him to help us steer, we’ll see He is Present all around us – not only in our faith and the grace of the Sacraments – but everywhere, in other people, and the things He blesses us with. Even amidst the bad things, He is there.

And we most often see Him in the little things, those common, everyday occurrences that we so often take for granted and gloss over.

Let God be your steering wheel this year, don’t just look to Him as a spare tire when things go bad. He might lead you down a road you never knew was there, one where you’re not sure of the destination – just trust in His direction.

Trust in the reality of Christ, and your journey will be littered with special graces and blessings along the way. It may still be a tough road, but a new encounter, a new relationship with God awaits.

Todays readings for Mass

IS 60:1-6; PS 72; EPH 3:2-3A, 5-6; MT 2:1-12

About the Author

My name is Joe LaCombe, and I am a writer in Indianapolis, Indiana in the USA. My amazing wife Kristy and I have been married for 15 years and we have an awesome little boy, Joseph, who is in 1st Grade! We are members of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Carmel, Indiana where we volunteer with Adult Faith Formation, most recently with the marriage enrichment ministries. To see adults, and married couples embrace the sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is a beautiful thing, and being able to tap into my experiences and bring the message of God to people through the written word is a passion of mine. I am an avid runner! I love to run and be out in the nature that God created, so you will find me running not only on sunny days, but rainy days, and even snow! I love to train for and compete in distance races, and find a deep spirituality in running, and I see distinct parallels between running and spirituality and life. I am excited and extremely blessed to be able to contribute to this website and look forward to sharing my thoughts and experiences!

Author Archive Page

17 Comments

  1. Happy New Year Joe to you and your family. I look foward to reading your reflections in this new year ahead. Another great reflection. God Bless.

  2. thank Joe for your wisdom this is what i want to hear this morning God bless you and your family happy new year please keep me and my family in your daily prayers. asking for God’s mercy, divine intervaintion, fruit of the womb, financial brake through. Amen.

  3. Tell me Joe, how do those who struggle each day for a pain free breath, or go without sufficient food trust in the reality of Christ and feel the shower of His blessings? Is God their steering wheel.
    Please don’t continue to exclude those who really have a tough existence, in favor of those who suffer self-imagined travails.

  4. Thanks Jack. It’s clear that you don’t like my reflections or spiritual perspectives, and thats ok. You make me think and reflect, and it really just helps to solidify my spiritual view on life.

    One of the things I’ve learned in my life (unless I’ve self-imagined it) was that if I complain about something, I better bring a solution or at least an idea to the table. The one thing I love about some of our other readers is that they may question us out on a particular writing, and that is fine. I don’t mind being questioned. But they provide solid, well though out rebuttals and new ideas, new perspectives and many times it’s provided a different insight for myself for sure, and a different way of looking at something. And I’ve learned something in the process.

    Perhaps instead of simply complaining and attack and disagreeing, you could lend some of that wisdom from your years of experience and open a dialog, helping us to see what your ideas and insights are on how those who have it much worse are to find God in their daily lives? Just a thought… I would love to hear your ideas and help in maybe seeing things a different way, you know, maybe be a part of the solution?

    God Bless.

  5. This was a beautiful reflection to me. After reading mr Findlay’s response, I had to go back and reread it with new perspective. It’s still beautiful, maybe even more so when contemplated with suffering in mind. That’s when we need Jesus in the second to second, minute to minute. I’m going to pray for those who ‘struggle each day for a pain free breath, or go without sufficient food’, that they are able to find a way to join their suffering with Christ’s, and feel his loving presence in the moment to moment. Thank you Mr Findlay for that new perspective. I have yet to have to suffer physically in such a way as you describe. My prayers offered for all those who do.

  6. It occurred to me that Joe represents the approach of Thomas Merton and Jack that of Mother Teresa or Dorothy Day.

  7. Joe, your response to Jack’s comments seemed as though you were taking them a bit personally rather than truly reflecting on them and replying with something helpful. (‘Not “liking” your reflection sounds a bit childish, whereas the reader appears to have given it sincere reflection. My perspective was that he was reaching out to you—because you and the other writers have taken on a leadership role—and you didn’t give him a hand up, but, as the young say, “left him hanging” with arm outstretched. I think you could have done better to be a “guiding light” than admonish him to “be part of the solution.” You write well, but I think words failed you in your response.

  8. Joe, I suspect you saw the same billboard that I pass every day on my commute. Many times it has really made me think. And your reflection has taken it deeper, making me ponder some very important questions so I thank you for that. Just speaking for myself here but when I let the Lord be my steering wheel, I seem to encounter more opportunities to help those in need …whether it be for food or a utility bill or a warm coat.

    I am thankful for you and all writers on this site who help us grow in both faith and good deeds.

  9. Hey Joe,

    You bring up an interesting point, how much should one rely on God?

    As a parent, look at how a family changes over time. In the beginning, the infant is totally dependent on the parents, but by the time the child is in their late teens, they can’t wait to be on their own. That’s not to say the teenager doesn’t love their parents, they do, but both parents and teen know when it’s time to leave. Do parents help their children in times of need? Sure. But the parents are proud that their child has become self sufficient and the child is happy to be on their own.

    My point is, depending upon your spiritual maturity, God can be both steering wheel and spare tire. And there is nothing wrong with that.

    Mark

  10. To Jack F. We are all human, we do the best we can. We need God’s grace and people like Joe to help us through life. But God does not make pain, war, and suffering. Those are conditions we have to deal with. God’s promise is to that all that pain and sorrow will be trancended into joy, if we have faith and live the best life we can. Yes, life can be incredibly painful, more for some than others. But I don’t blame God for that. In my heart, I believe God will bring eternal comfort if we stay the course with faith, love and kindness. No quick fix, for sure but this is the life we have we were given.

  11. Hi Joe,
    Those are really thought provoking questions. Thanks for sharing your reflections. They made me rethink of my relationship with God. Wonderful comment, Teresa.

  12. Jack, part of the Epiphany, the manifestation, the revealing of Jesus, is that He is both Gid and man. He humbled Himself to take on human flesh and emotions. He suffered and died for us.

    Jesus is with everybody who is suffering, because He Himself suffered. He is on the journey with those who struggle to take a pain-free breath, because He asphyxiated on the Cross. He died while struggling to take a pain-free breath.

    He is on the journey with those who struggle to find enough food to eat, because He was poor. His parents were richly blessed spiritually, but they did not have money. He may or may not have gone hungry at times, but even if He didn’t go hungry, I doubt that their house was overflowing with food, especially living as foreign refugees in Egypt until Herod’s death.

    As a sufferer of chronic pain, I used to have the “why me, God? Why are others pain-free and can do X, but I can’t? It’s not fair!” mantra. I was angry at God. But suddenly, at Mass last Palm Sunday, the opening prayer that the priest says struck me. The prayer was (paraphrasing): take a share in His patient suffering, so that you may merit a share in His glorious Resurrection.

    That was it. That was my epiphany. I immediately was filled with profound peace and relief. My internal struggle (that I didn’t realize I was having, so accustomed to it had I grown) was over. I was filled with the Holy Spirit, and felt the outpouring of His Grace on me.

    I realized that if God allowed His only begotten Son, and really Himself, to suffer through horrific anguish, torture, and death, then who am I to demand not to suffer? Am I better than God? Of course not! And so my suffering is far less than what Jesus experienced. And I accept it.

    Mind you, I’m not happy about my pain, and I pray all the time that the Lord will take it away. That’s hope. But if the Lord chooses not to take it away, I accept the pain, and believe that much good can come from it (there is a line in the letter to the Romans about how all things can be made good for God, and that’s where my belief in that is expressed). That’s trust.

    Like Joe said for Epiphany, and has said for countless reflections, we should trust in the Lord.

    I also remember reading a line either on this website, or in Living Faith, or maybe elsewhere that said (paraphrasing): sometimes we sacrifice, and sometimes we *are* the sacrifice. Jesus sacrificed and was the sacrifice. He is our model of hope, trust, faith, and love.

    Finally, I know that God didn’t give me my pain. My pain is a result of original sin, and consequently sin, pain, disease, and death entering our world. For more on that topic, please see Carolyn Berghuis’ reflections, in which she beautifully explains the fall of Adam and Eve, its consequences, and how God is here to help us through our lives with His love.

    May the Lord bless all of you, and may He give each of us the epiphany we need.

  13. I would also like to add that I realized that my assessment of “It’s not fair!” of what is going on in my life was immensely changed by the further realization (from my epiphany on Palm Sunday) as to what else is not fair.

    It’s not fair that an innocent, sinless human being, God Himself, suffered and died for my sins, so that I may have eternal life with Him! It’s not fair!

    But that is God’s justice, and, as has been written often by the writers and commenters on this website, God is God and I am not. He knows what is just and serves to bring about His kingdom.

  14. Perhaps Jesus is both “guiding light and spare flashlight.” I knew a man who struggled everyday for a pain free breath – he had emphysema – was dying from it in fact. When he could and whenever it was available, he received anointing of the sick. He died in September 1986. Jesus was his guiding light and his spare flashlight. He knew the joy of loving Jesus and he set an example for his three sons. My father.

  15. As a Catholic there is an overwhelming tendency to look at God as the solution to ALL OUR PROBLEMS and that’s the SPARE TIRE MENTALITY. You’re in trouble you go to Jesus praying for a solution. But the essence of our existence on Earth is not to stay here forever but rather to prepare us to the REAL PRIZE which is TO BE WITH JESUS FOR ETERNITY. And we can only do that if we FOLLOW THE ENLIGHTENED PATH THAT JESUS has set by BECOMING BEARERS of light for everyone. The question of poverty and suffering is confusing as the problem is centuries-old. But do you think there will be LACK if men learn to GIVE with all their hearts. I don’t think so. Or better yet ,train these people from poorer nations to EARN a living. When you become a light, darkness fades. And you can only do that when you let JESUS BE YOUR STEERING WHEEL, be your source of light to guide your life to do the purpose it was meant to have.

  16. Thanks Joe.

    I’ve also had to go through other comments.
    Thanks to those who have blessed me with their comments and may God’s light keep leading us all.

  17. Hi Joe just reading your reflection I could feel the presence of God in my life. His word is my life. Thank you.

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