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Intro: Change drivers?

1This way to getting lost 9


2Make a U-turn now 19
3Review the map 31
4Welcome to the joy lane 40
5Refill your tank 51
6One mile at a time 61
7Unload the junk from the trunk 76

8Do a convoy 84
9Again, again, again! 95
Epilogue: Quit blowing your horn
plus some last-minute advice 105

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Y

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Y OU’RE SIGHT-SEEING NEW places and experiencing new things.
Slow and sure, the car cruises along. The passenger seat from where
you view the scenery is reclined. You’re all relaxed. Road trip’s been
smooth. You put your shades on and start yapping your happy song.
“It’s a beautiful life!” You holler.
So far, everything’s been good. That is, until you started to
get bored. Your hands feel the itch for the steering wheel. “I miss
driving this car,” you whisper. Your foot can’t wait to step on the gas.
Craving for control, your patience snaps.
So you turn to the Driver.
“I want to drive.”
“Is there anything wrong with My driving?”
“Nothing! I just want to drive again.”
“But it’s too risky. I know where we’re going, and I can take you
there.”
“But this is my car, and I have the right to drive it. I think I can
find my way.”
“OK, if that’s what you want, I will let you.”

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Back on Track > > >

You’re all alone and back to where you once were—in the driver’s
seat. You grip the steering wheel tight as you return to being your
own driver and navigator.
Scrap the map. Shun the signs. “Whatever, wherever” just
became the new order of the day.
The engine screams. Mercury rises. Car’s starting to heat up but
who cares? You go for breakneck speed even as you miss one turn,
and then pass another. So you keep on racing towards the direction
of nowhere in particular. To quick-fix the error, you make an ill-
advised left turn. Then you follow it with another three more. You’re
wondering, “Did four left turns make things right?”
You step on the brake. The front wheels screech as you pull
over. Gas gauge reads near empty. Engine heat-check says way
beyond over. Left headlamp’s dead. When you pop up the hood,
steam and smoke burst out as the engine hisses. One smoking
machine is all you’ve got. The car is busted, and so are you. To make
matters worse, you find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere.
Pause for a moment and think. How did you get here? One
H
minute you’re traveling the right road, letting the Good Driver take
you where He wants you to go, the next minute you’re all alone in
the car and officially lost!

Will you ever


find your way back?

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H ANDS IN THE AIR!”
Three soldiers carrying ArmaLite rifles are ready to fire “on
command.” Snipers are poised to shoot the target with their fingers
on the triggers.

Off from a dinner date with my girlfriend at the time, I made my


way to Glorietta from a restaurant in Alabang to meet up with some
college chums. Late night meant traffic’s light so I coasted through
Makati’s metro. My phone rang. Then rang again. I needed to pick
up more speed. Time to hurry-up, Ru!
The map in my head said not to turn right until after the
stoplight. The correct turn meant a slot nearest to the meeting place.
And the wrong one equaled a trip to the farthest car park.
Suddenly the traffic light winked. Yellow blinked and the red
light was up. I made a full stop. While waiting for the green to light

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Back on Track > > >

up, I felt the lull was more than I could handle. Impatient me made
a quick right, which turned out to be a wrong turn. The result: I had
to park at the wrong side. From Oakwood, I had to go for a long
walk to reach our meeting place.
And so I walked.
When I finally got there, the party had just ended. When I
suggested we have coffee, my friends relented. And so we hung out
and had coffee until the break of dawn.
At 3 am, while we were enjoying our frapuccinos and mochaccinos,
the guards barged into the scene without warning. Sirens screamed.
We had to leave immediately.
The fastest way to my parking slot was via a hitch. I rode with
my pals to get to the building’s other wing. On the way, I saw tanks
and army trucks filling up the streets. Soldiers lined up left and
right. From the way it looked, a war was waiting to happen.
We finally reached the square where I left my car. While
attempting to make for the entrance, somebody fired a gun. A man,
shot in the leg, dropped. Somebody shouted, “Do not enter!”
Quickly, soldiers with red armbands started barricading the
open parking lot. Bombs, they said, surrounded the whole area.
It was not too long before the situation
Quickly, soldiers with red became too hot to handle. The best
armbands start barricading choice was safety first. A friend’s
the open parking lot. condo located nearby proved to be
the perfect hiding place.
Inside the condominium unit, my eyes stayed glued to the TV
screen. All local channels were reporting on the Oakwood Mutiny.
Apparently, 300-plus soldiers were staging a mini-revolt against the
government.

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Clock read 6 am. Broadcast revealed that the negotiation between the
government and the unhappy soldiers was at a standstill. The bomb
threat was announced. If a settlement would not be reached, the
soldiers threatened to push the button and detonate the explosives.
If they pushed the button, I’d also have to kiss my car “Chill”
goodbye.
“Oh no! Not like this!”
I was not about to let another car fry. Besides, who wants to
have “Frying cars” as a hobby? Not me!
“Hang in there, Chill. I’m coming to get you.”

After a quick cab ride and some walking, I finally reached the
entrance of the car park to face one of the greatest scares of my life.
When I got there, a soldier “welcomed” me.
“What do you want, Boy?”
“My car, S-sir.”
“Louder!”
“My car, Sir. It’s inside, Sir!”
“Can’t you see that this area is off-limits?”
Before I could utter another word, I pointed to my car and
reached for my wallet in my back pocket.
“Hands in the air!” He ordered. Probably thinking I was reaching
for a gun, the soldiers pointed their ArmaLites to my face.
“My car, Sir. It’s inside. I’m just a student from Pampanga. I
can’t go home without the car.”
Thankfully, the soldiers were pacified after I showed them my
school ID. After explaining the situation to their commander by
radio, they received word that they can let me go. Serving as escorts,
the three soldiers got inside the car with me. “Don’t be afraid,” they
assured me. “We’re going to lead you out of this place.”

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Back on Track > > >

With their help, I extricated myself


“Next time, Boy, from the sticky mess and left the
be careful not to get into
danger zone for good. But before
trouble.”
my three military escorts slammed
the car door, one told me: “Next
time, Boy, be careful not to get into trouble.”

Don ’t just eenie, e


meenie, miney, mo
Life is about making choices. Where we are today is the result of
the series of choices we’ve made along the way. It’s as simple as A-B-
C-D. From point A to point B, one small C—Choice—may spell
the biggest D—Difference. In my Oakwood experience, one wrong
turn led to the entrance of the wrong car park, which has led me to
terrible consequences.
Making choices, both right and wrong, has major consequences.
Right ones equal to you finding the right path. Wrong ones lead
to you being lost. And just like a vicious cycle, a wrong choice, if
not immediately corrected, leads to another wrong decision. And
another. The stakes become higher. Until finally, you hit a dead end
and the bottom starts falling out. No wonder the writer of Proverbs
had this to say:
There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the
end it leads to death.
Proverbs 14:12

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Small choices,
Big sins
The company crook started his “career” in cheating with a quick look
at his classmate’s test paper when he was in 6th grade. The perpetual
liar started with a little fib she told her mother. An adulterer started
by having two girlfriends at a time when he was a teenager. And the
chain smoker started his habit with his first puff.
All of them share one thing in common: They all started their
downward spiral with one bad choice. And if they don’t change their
ways, many of them might end up in prison, or worse, dead before
they reach middle age.
But the epidemic of making They all started their
downward spiral with one
wrong choices is not limited to
bad choice.
the 21st century. It actually started
with the very first couple (Hello,
Adam and Eve!) and continued throughout the history of mankind.

Who wa nts to be a part


of this “honor” roll?
Allow me to tell you something about people who could’ve been
included in the Bible’s Hall of Shame (if ever there was one):

• At a time when this king was supposed to be joining his


army at war, he went for an untimely R and R (rest and
recreation) by staying in his room with a view. When David
went out to the rooftop to get some fresh air, he saw Uriah’s
wife, Bathsheba, taking a bath.
He lusted after her and then slept with her. Later on,
upon hearing the news that Bathsheba bore his child, he
came up with a plan to have Uriah sleep with his wife.

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Back on Track > > >

When that didn’t work—David tried twice—he arranged


that Uriah be killed in battle. David’s plan worked to
perfection, and it instantly made him someone who gave
birth to twin sins—adultery and murder.

• “Oops, he did it again!” One of the things that characterized


Moses was his inability to control his temper. When anger
hits him, he strikes hard. Once, he struck at an Egyptian
soldier and killed him on the spot. After years of hiding in
desert and after being re-called to duty by God, you’d think
foul temper has left him.
But think again! Moments after encountering God, he
can still be found losing his cool (Exodus 32:19; Numbers
20:2-11). One time he struck by throwing away the tablets
of stone with God’s handwriting on them, and then again
by striking a rock with his staff out of frustration.

• This next one loves the booze. If you push the rewind
button, you will see Noah getting drunk not long after
being saved by God via the giant ark (Genesis 9:20-21).

• Do you know Mr Liar-Liar? Abraham, driven by fear for his


life, made a big fat lie about his wife. “She’s my sister,” he
told a king. He did this not long after receiving a promise
of blessing from God (Genesis 12:11-20).

They were all guilty as charged when they sinned and disobeyed
God. But amazingly, there is no Hall of Shame in the Bible and we
find their names, instead, in faith’s Hall of Fame in Hebrews 11. So
what turned the tide to their favor? Why are their names included
in that list? The answer is simply this—GRACE. Their life stories are
God’s way of telling us that He is never into counting our mistakes.
Instead, He is in the business of handing out second chances.

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Lemme tell you


‘bout P a ul
Paul who?
Paul, formerly Saul, was one of the greatest persecutors of
the followers of Jesus Christ. He was a strict Pharisee. Pharisees
belong to a group that didn’t believe in Jesus. They emphasized
the interpretation of the Law of Moses but laid great stress upon
observance of rituals and ceremonies. They believed that they
were holier than others. And unlike Jesus, who welcomed sinners,
these guys separated themselves from the common people. They
were viewed as hypocrites because they came to equate knowing
God with being a member of their group. To be one of them was
ultimately more important than knowing and understanding the
will of God. Though they often claimed to be keeping God’s Law,
they were, in fact, only drawing attention to their self-glorifying
moral achievements.
This guy did not like Jesus. He He initially thought that
initially thought that Christianity Christianity was nothing but
was nothing but a crazy religion. a crazy religion.
He hated the guts of those who
believed in Jesus. As a result, he wanted to get rid of them all.
The anti-Jesus followers were glad to have such a super-driven
man as Saul who defended their cause. Saul labored day and night,
working and planning how he might destroy the church in Jerusalem
(Need proof? Check out Acts 7:58).
But after encountering Christ while he was on the road to
Damascus, he made a 180-degree turn from being Saul the great
persecutor to Paul the great apostle of Jesus. God used him to write
half of the books of the New Testament. When he realized what evil
he has done against Christians, he knew he deserved to be punished.

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Back on Track > > >

He knew he deserved death. And he knew that in all those times, he


was living in the grip of grace.
That’s probably why the concept of grace was central in Paul’s
teachings. In one translation, the word grace (charis in Greek)
appeared 97 times in his epistles. Reference to grace became the
trademark beginning and ending of his letters. And in his letter to
the Corinthians, he speaks of what God told him about His grace:

“My grace is all you need. My power works best in


weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT

God delivers this line to him at a time when Paul confessed to have
been struggling against a weakness. He referred to it as a “thorn” in
the flesh. For three times, he pleaded to God to take it away. But
instead of giving in to his request, God
People fail. Who tells him that His grace will always be
doesn’t? But hallelujah enough.
for grace. People fail. Who doesn’t? But
hallelujah for grace. It is God’s
power in action, manifested in God’s weakness-filled people.

Game over or
start over?
Let’s play a little chess. You’re down to your last piece. Last one
standing is the king. You are trapped in a corner and have nowhere
else to go. Make one move and you’re dead. Checkmate! Next thing
left to do is to give up and let your opponent topple your king. Next
thing you know, it’s game over.
Good thing that although this applies in a chess match, it’s
never the case in our life with Christ. The big difference is this:

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Grace. While there’d be times when our wrong moves can cause us
to be caught in seemingly “no-way-out” situations, I can boldly say
that with Christ, there’s no such thing as game over.
For when all the odds are against us—when even a step forward
or backward, or even sideward can spell the end—remember that
there is one more option left: to look up! There you’d find God
ready and willing to hand you His grace.
So if there’d be times when you feel like your king is trapped
and about to be downed by a checkmate,
don’t choose to concede. Look to the How would you like to
King of kings. You just got found. exchange your game over
You’ve got grace. How would you for a start over?
like to exchange your game over
for a start over?

Where are you?


Are you lost, in the middle of nowhere in your life, and can’t seem to
find your way to back to the track that will lead you to God? You feel
sorry for a sin but can’t seem to overcome it. As a result your heart
has gotten stone-cold. You lost the fire.
Or are you in the middle of a big mess because you’ve made
wrong choices and are now struggling to pick yourself up? Guilt
has struck. Consequences left and right hit hard and knocked you
down. There seems to be no way out.
Or are you in the middle of a catastrophe? Your grades flunked
because you partied instead of studied. Or you just broke up with
your boyfriend or girlfriend and it’s your fault. Your life has just
reached rock-bottom.
The end seems near for you.
Don’t give up just yet. Hold on for just a moment. Just as God
said to Paul, so is He telling you right now: His grace is all you need.
His grace is enough, it is sufficient.

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Back on Track > > >

No sin, no failure, no mistake is ever too big to crowd out the


grace of God. “For there is nothing we can do to make God love us
less.”1 No problem is ever too big for God to fix. And nothing is ever
too difficult for Him.
God is not giving up on you. So don’t give up on Him. Through
God’s grace, a clean slate is up for grabs. A fresh start is yours for the
taking. Get up and get moving. Begin again now.
The second chance begins when you
No sin, no failure, no invite Him to take the driver’s seat
mistake is ever too big to again. The first step to recovery is
crowd out the grace of God. to let Him have the steering wheel.
It’s time to get back on track.

on e w ith th e On e
ontoday
On e Lord, I realized that my stubbornness has led me to
losing my way. I was careless and I thought less. My wrong
choices resulted in a pile of bad consequences. That’s why
today, Lord, I receive Your grace. I long for a clean slate
and a new beginning. I am turning over my life once again
to You and humbly surrender. So Jesus, here I am, in all
humility confessing once again that You are the Lord of my
life and of everything I have. From this day onward, it will
not be my will, but Yours be done in my life.

_____________
1 Philip Yancey, What’s so Amazing about Grace? (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002) p. 70.

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