Gina Christian

“Turn your wheel to the right, ma’am.”

My brow furrowed. “You mean to the left?”

“No,” the young man said, standing in front of my truck and looking down at my front tires. “You’re not in the track yet.”

Frustrated, I wrangled the steering wheel until he gave me a thumbs-up and walked over to my open window.

“Put it in neutral, and no brakes.”

I shifted the gears and rolled up the window as my truck slowly glided into the automatic car wash. Every few months — and usually mortified by just how much pollen and bird droppings had managed to coat my pickup – I headed to a nearby service station for a cleanup.

And every single time, I struggled to get the wheels onto that maddening conveyor belt that led through the series of sprayers and brushes.

Somehow, I always managed to think that the attendant wasn’t guiding me accurately, or that the power would go out midway through the wash and I’d have to accelerate so I wouldn’t get rear-ended by the next vehicle.

For the entire five-minute session, I would be itching to adjust the steering, tap the brakes or check the mirrors. I would peer through the wriggling, wet strands of the cleaning drapes, straining to see the daylight beyond the dryers.

In short, I hated being out of control, even for a moment.

That desire to be in charge, to micromanage every minute, was something quite foreign to Mary, the Nazarene peasant girl who gave birth to the very Son of God.

Conceived without sin, she didn’t try to tell the Lord how to realize his mysterious plan for salvation by suggesting a few alternative options — such as getting Joseph on board a bit earlier in the process, or eliminating the threat of a paranoid Herod, or sidestepping the crucifixion altogether. From the angel Gabriel’s whisper to the moment she left this earth, Mary breathed “yes” to God with her whole being.

In other words, she placed herself in the hands of the Lord and shifted into the gear of surrender, with no brakes.

No brakes when Simeon, lifting the infant Christ, predicted a sword would pierce her heart (Luke 2:34-35) — or when, widowed, she released her beloved son to his public ministry, prompting him to reveal himself at Cana (John 2:1-12).

No brakes when Jesus, when told that his mother and brothers awaited him, appeared to accord no particular honor to his earthly kinship, saying instead that “whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Matthew 12: 46-50, Mark 3:31-35, Luke 8:19-21).

No brakes when, at his crucifixion, Jesus gave her into John’s keeping, and made her mother of all the faithful (John 19:26-27).

No brakes when the glorified Christ left her here on earth after his resurrection and ascension to watch over his newborn church (Acts 1:14).

And no brakes when, at a precise moment unknown to us, he called her home, and raised both body and soul into eternal glory — a joyous event we now celebrate as the Assumption.

On this feast, may Mary show us how to shift into surrender, turn the steering wheel over to the Lord, and follow him with willing hearts and no brakes.