When I was driving long distance coaches I used to make regular service runs to Mt Gambier. On Fridays the driver would drive down and back in the one day, but have a relief driver waiting at Tintinara on the way home in the evening. On one particular Friday I had a double-decker coach fully loaded out of Adelaide. We made it to Mt. Gambier pretty much on time in the afternoon. I had a couple of hours rest before starting the return journey at about 5:15pm. I only had a couple of passengers out of the Mount (in a 60 seater coach) and when I got to Naracoorte there was a young lad travelling unaccompanied to board the coach. His Uncle or grandfather (I’m not sure which it was now) was there to put him on and requested that the lad travel upstairs, as he had never travelled in a decker before. Normally unaccompanied children would travel down stairs and towards the front where the driver could keep an eye on them. On this occasion, because there were very few on board, I allowed this young fellow to travel upstairs as requested.
Well we got on our way, had a meal stop at Bordertown and I arrived at Tintinara right on the dot of 9pm, where my relief driver was waiting and shivering in the cold. Not a moment was lost. I jumped out of the driver’s seat and my relief jumped in and away we continued. Well, it was pretty dark by this time and the only lights inside the coach were the floor lights. I had been showing a movie and when the movie finished I said to my relief driver, “I’d better go up and check on this young lad to see that he is ok.”
Now what you have to realise is that in a double-decker the top half is pretty much cut off from the bottom half. You can never be too sure what is going on up stairs and vice versa. So here we are - picture this in your mind - we are hurtling along the Dukes Hwy in a double-decker coach at 100 kph. It’s dark apart from the floor lights and I make my way up the stairs of the coach with my flash light to check on this young fellow. Yes he was still there! He was sitting just behind the stairwell, so I ventured over to him and said, “I’m just checking that all is ok.”
His eyes were bulging as I spoke to him and he answered almost with a stutter– wait for this now – “Oh I’m fine! BUT WHO’S DRIVING THE BUS???”
I said: “Don’t worry! I have it on Auto-pilot!”
He asked: “Can you do that?
“Sure I do it all the time,” I answered. “Just hit the cruise control and away we go!”
True story!!! I had to ‘fess up of course in the end as to who was actually driving.
But you see many in the world – and maybe some of you today - want to know who is driving the bus of life? Who’s in control?
In Mark 4:35-41 the disciples asked a similar question when they were in the boat when a great storm came up on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus was in the back of the boat asleep with his head on a cushion. Sounds sort of comfy and cosy - until he was awakened by the frantic voices of the disciples saying “Don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” Kind of their way of asking, Who’s driving the bus? Jesus calmed the sea and asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
We may be afraid of what is going on around us in the world. We may be facing all kinds of hardships with health and work and finances and the uncertainty of the future. The fear of change and disruption is real. We are just like the disciples in the boat facing the storm in the dark – wondering who is driving the bus and what is about to face us around the corner?
I think the key sentence in this passage is right there in verse 35 when Jesus said, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” He didn’t say “Well let’s see how far we can go across the lake.” No, he was very determined and confident that they would make it across to the other side. There was no question about it. Other boats followed it says in verse 36. There is no other reference made about them. Maybe they turned back when the storm blew up. We do not know. But the boat that Jesus and his disciples were in kept on going – To the other side of the lake.
And so Jesus asks, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They seem harsh questions, and yet sometimes we may be tempted ourselves to question our own faith when faced with fear and uncertainty. Where is God in all of this? It is natural to do so. But Jesus is in the boat. Jesus is driving the bus, when it seems like no one is in control.
Psalm 46 is one of my favourite psalms. It is sometimes referred to as Luther’s Psalm that inspired the classic hymn “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” You will also recognise some the words from Darlene Zschech’s very popular anthem, “Shout to the Lord.” Psalm 46 teaches us that we CAN trust in God because He is our Positive Protector, a Positive Presence and our Positive Power.
Out of the doom and gloom of the present age, there is some good news for each of us. There is HOPE and our world needs to hear that! God is with us! Is that too simplistic? When I pastored in Auckland my general theme was “Jesus Gives Hope” and I had a large bill board with those words in bold red letters emblazoned on it for people to read as they drove past on the busy Dominion Road. “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear.” (Psalm46:1&2) We are to TRUST Him. God is our hope. The fact is that we can make it through with Him. Trust Him!! We may not know what the future holds, but we can know the one who holds the future, sang the Gospel group First Call – we can know who is driving the bus. We can trust him. He is dependable.
Jesus wants to get us across to the other side and he will. Verse 1 of chapter 5 reads. “So they arrived on the other side of the lake...” They arrived! They left, they encountered a great storm along the way, and they arrived safely on the other side. Yes there will be storms and Jesus may seem to be sleeping in the back of the boat – or in the bunk of the bus, but his Word to us today is “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” TRUST HIM! Trust Him to get us there. That’s faith
Yes, JESUS GIVES HOPE! God is alive and well. You need to hear that! I need to hear that! Our world needs to hear that. We just need to trust Him.
SO!! Who’s driving the bus??? Yes sometimes we may find cause to question, who is control? But in hind-sight we can see the hand of God at work. Trust Him. He is trust-worthy. God is our refuge and strength. Trust Him to get us across to the other side.
His protection! His Presence! His Power! Today more than ever in any of our lives, we need to know that Jesus Gives Hope and people at St Peter’s Lutheran Church Elizabeth, whatever is going on in your life, YOU – CAN – TRUST – HIM!!!
God bless you today and on into the future!
And all of God’s people said – Amen! Praise God!