Pastor’s Pen: No salvation by proxy

Rev Neil Cutcliffe.
Rev Neil Cutcliffe.

By Rev Neil Cutcliffe

People often ask what’s the worst thing that has ever happened to me during my driving career.

Several incidents spring readily to mind - two simultaneous flat tyres on the motorway, sunroof left open in the car wash, a burst bag of cement in the boot solidifying into a lump which only a pneumatic drill could shift, numerous hand brake failures on steep hills, keys snapping off in the ignition - the list is endless.

However, very early one morning a number of years ago all these calamities paled into insignificance when my front door bell rang and much to my surprise, I found Aunt Agatha standing proudly on the doorstep, triumphantly waving her brand new Provisional Driving Licence in the air. After decades of ignoring everything and anything mechanised, the formidable Aunt Agatha had finally come round to the blinding realisation that it was time she started to learn to drive. To make a bad situation even worse, it also became clear she had already decided on whom the honour of being her first instructor was to be bestowed.

“Neil, my dear,” she warbled, “Fetch the car, there’s a good boy.”

“Er - um, what car?” I stuttered as the full implications of my aunt’s visit suddenly dawned on me.

“Your car! Whose car did you think I meant?”

The ensuing journey is still etched deep amongst my innermost nightmares. The car was barely 50 metres down the road when Aunt Agatha began to exhibit hitherto unsuspected pretensions at Formula One racing. Accelerating, changing gear, cornering, everything had to be done at speed and the faster the better!

My screams reached a new pitch as we rounded the second bend on the wrong side of the road. With my nerves shot to pieces, I was sorely tempted to deliver a sharp blow to the back of auntie’s head to see if that would help the situation. Not so hard as to dislodge her dentures, you understand, but with sufficient clout to induce her to stop the car long enough for me to make good my escape!

Oh, how much easier and safer for everyone concerned, if only I could have sat the eventual test for my aunt, a thought that returned again and again to haunt and taunt me as we hurtled along narrow country lanes, the oncoming traffic and telegraph poles just a blur in my vision.

But unfortunately, no-one can pass their driving test by proxy - not even the indomitable Aunt Agatha! For her it had to be a deliberate decision which eventually would have to carried through by herself alone.

As far as the Driving Test is concerned, instructors can help and advise but on the day of the actual test it’s all down to the learner. The same principle applies to Salvation. You can’t get into heaven on someone else’s acceptance of the Lord. Other people can advise and offer guidance, they can bring you so far but they can’t take the final step for you. Only you can do that. In spiritual matters, just as with the learner driver, remember, the ultimate test is up to oneself and that ultimate test in life is what we make of the Lord Jesus.

A question to consider: do we invite Jesus to reign at the centre of our lives or are we quite content just to leave him flickering on the periphery? Don’t forget, it’s your decision and yours only, so please, on this journey we call life, keep between the hedges!