I don’t think I ever took a taxi until I moved to the Middle East.
Obvious-foreigners without language skills are always warned about thieves, creepers, potential threats. Armed with the innocence of any bright-eyed 24-year-old and the voice of my dad in the back of my head, I determined nobody would take advantage of me.
Before long, I couldn’t trust any taxi drivers and saw each one as a potential thief. I would tell the guy where to go, he’d struggle to understand my terrible Arabic pronunciation, and then set out, usually in the direct opposite of where I indicated. Eventually he’d wind his way around, I’d start to recognize the scenery, and I’d realize he was really taking me safely home. Occasionally I’d fight at the end because I knew it shouldn’t cost that much, even if the meter said so.
Isn’t this how God works with us sometimes? We tell him where we want to go, and then think He’s taking us for a ride when the route involves twists and turns, having started in the wrong direction. But ultimately, he knows the locations of the one ways, the pile-ups, and the real thieves. If we want to go it alone, by foot, we can, but we’ll arrive late, dirty, and too exhausted for what he has for us there.
I’ve learned something about obedience from being the strong-willed child in my family. When I was a kid, I would throw temper tantrums. I would finally surrender, discovering my parents may know better, but often only hours of angry and tear-filled exchanges. I now understand the love and patience that went into parenting children who think they know better. And I’ve discovered that the end result—surrender—was always the same, so I’ve learned to exhaust less energy and surrender in obedience much earlier in my tantrums with God.
I recently moved to a new neighborhood, and am learning the same lesson again. I now have the language skills to fend off the occasional driver who wants the foreigner premium instead of the standard rate. But most of the time I trust that the driver knows where to go, while I sit back and enjoy the scenery.