Contributors Set apart

In life’s ups and downs, trust the Lord with the wheel

Sister Eva-Maria Ackerman, FSGM, is the Delegate for Religious and Consecrated Life for the archdiocese.

by Sister Eva-Maria Ackerman

Riding in a dune buggy with Uncle Logan at the steering wheel was comparable to “hanging 20” off the edge of a surfboard on a hurricane-created wave.

Thrilling moments for his passengers, of which I was one, came on the sand dunes of Mustang Island during a Labor Day weekend campout shortly after our family moved to coastal south Texas in the early ’70s.

Even though my uncle had maneuvered police cruisers during high-speed chases while serving on the Houston police force, he was hardly prepared for the ups and downs and hidden dangers of driving on the uneven mounds of beach sand, with little or no visibility ahead.

Mom, his oldest sister, was the first to take the plunge and climb into the buggy. As she and Uncle Logan disappeared into sand dunes on the outer edge of the beach, we heard only a steady stream of screams, the pitch and intensity going up or down according to which part of the dune they were tackling at the moment. I thought she was having a nervous breakdown.

Mom’s hysteria continued long after she moved out of the buggy for the next passenger.

When my turn came, I soon realized what little control I had to stop the vehicle once Uncle Logan began to navigate it bumpily over one dune after another in rapid succession.

Further fortifying my fears and frenzy was that “runaway roller coaster feeling” within. I grabbed the dashboard for dear life. Miraculously, the vehicle didn’t roll over.

By the end of the camping trip, Uncle Logan lost interest in driving the buggy. The tide of Mom’s panic had subsided. My white knuckles returned to their regular color, and a certain calm returned to the dunes.

I wonder what went through Simon Peter’s mind when Jesus stepped into his boat, already docked after a fishing venture, and asked him to “put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch” (Lk 5:4).

Did Peter realize that, by allowing Jesus to step into his boat and determine the next fishing spot, he was about to hand over the helm of his life to the Lord’s direction for the rest of his days?

As the Lord guides us over peaks and down valleys, through the ebbs and flows of everyday life, he encourages us to let go of our need to control, to hang on with dear life and to trust him with the wheel.

About the author

Sister Eva-Maria Ackerman

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