From the Locum Minister


Dear Friends

Last March, taking leave of my senses, I decided to really splash out and buy a new car - a Mercedes coupe. With its personalised number plate it is now, I fear, a marked car!!!

Having owned a succession of BMW two-seater sports cars over the past 20 years, I was only too aware that I was breaking with a longstanding Cuthell tradition. I also realised that, with a four-seater car, I am now vulnerable to that bane of every car driver - the back-seat driver!!!

What is a back-seat driver? Someone who always thinks he or she knows best how a car should be driven? It's usually a 'she' - and I am going to get in deep trouble for saying that!! Sometimes it's a junior member of the family who chips in with his advice - 'Come on, Dad, step on it. We're not going to a funeral.'

Sometimes the back-seat driver is often to be found in the front passenger seat. One of my favourite TV programmes was 'Keeping up Appearances'. I would invariably dissolve into laughter at any scene depicting Hyacinth sitting in the front passenger seat and saying to her long-suffering husband, 'Now, Richard dear, take extra care. You see that gentleman walking along the pavement.'

However, back-seat driving wasn't something that started with the invention of the motor car. Back-seat driving has been around for a long time. The back-seat driver is just another name for the armchair critic, the touchline spectator.
Can you answer me this question? Why is it that the best players are so rarely seen to be on the field of play? May I suggest that these oh-so-perfect people are to be found sitting in the grandstand or standing on the touch-line and mouthing off how it should be done. Somehow, the armchair critic, the touchline spectator always knows how to kick more goals, score more tries than the one who is in the hot seat. And - remember - the hot seat is never the back-seat or the armchair!

Peter, one of Jesus' followers, was a bit of a back-seat driver. He was so sure he had a far better view of the road ahead than Jesus. 'If I were you, mate, I wouldn't take that road.' What road? - the way of the cross, the way of self-forgetting, suffering love. Peter was adamant that Jesus was heading in the wrong direction. As far as Peter was concerned, instead of trudging along the way of the cross, Jesus should have been forging along the glory trail, making himself the pin-up idol of the crowds, living the glamorous lifestyle of a popular celebrity. Poor Peter, all he got for his back-seat driving was the sharp edge of his Master's tongue. 'Get thee behind me, Satan.'

Mind you, there is no shortage of back-seat drivers, no shortage of armchair critics when it comes to criticising God for the pathetic job He seems to be making of running this world of ours. By allowing the world to become a mad-house full of war, hunger, disease, poverty, suffering and injustice, the back-seat drivers, the armchair critics are convinced God has lost His grip, has lost control. These back-seat drivers are implying that, if it was left to them, they'd make a far better job of things.

It's always easy to say what should be done, especially when you're not sitting in the driving seat - but take it from me - it's only from the driving seat that you can get the best overall view of things - unlike the back seat where one's vision tends to be severely restricted.

I happen to believe that one day we shall see how the pieces in the jigsaw puzzle of life fit together, we shall see life from the best vantage point possible - through the eyes of eternity. What had seemed to be a 'tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing', when viewed from the backseat of life, will, from this new angle, be seen to have meaning and purpose and direction.

Perhaps we should leave God at the controls. After all, we sing 'He's got the whole world in His hands'. Perhaps we should have more faith, not only in the driver of our Sunday afternoon outing in the car, but also in the One who made the universe.

God bless you all

Your locum minister, Tom

November 2016
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