I gave my 14 year-old twins their first driving lesson this weekend. When we got home my wife expressed her disapproval. Apparently, even on private property it is illegal to operate a car without a driver’s license. Further, they’re too young and we were in our nice car, which could have ended in an expensive mistake or even tragedy. She is right! In my defense, I thought they might end up better drivers if we started early with the basics. They learned about the acceleration and brake pedals, practiced starting and stopping and going the right direction by turning the steering wheel. All necessities for driving lessons!
I think I may have learned more than them! I learned patience, the importance of giving clear instructions, and to stay calm. First of all, my patience was tested. I had to let them learn at their own pace. I could tell them what to do but they had to experience operating a car to know how to handle it. A couple of short stops and near curb hops and they were showing improvement. Second, I needed to give clear instructions – step by step – so that they could effectively know how to proceed. One command at a time helped their linear thinking processes. Third, I had to stay calm and not show my fear (of crashing, going too fast, moving in the wrong direction). It was a real test of my ability to maintain composure as much as theirs!
Upon reflection I realized that giving driving lessons is a lot like our relationship with God. When we trust in God we learn when to accelerate and when to slow down. Like driving, life has a way of bringing many things at us at one time. Sometimes we may need to pick up the pace and at other times we need to slow it down and focus on what we are doing or one thing at a time. We have to learn what to avoid and how to straighten our paths.
We need not go it alone, however. God gives us all a clear path of how to avoid the pitfalls in life but sometimes we go the wrong direction anyway. Of course, we have a way to restore our relationship with him if we only listen and trust that his ways are best for us! In most situations staying calm and trusting his plan offers us the best strategy.
Perhaps the most significant lesson learned by me was that I was trying to do for them what God does for me every day. He offers abundant patience, clear instructions, and the ability to remain calm when I mess up. I know God believes in me yet allows me the ability to take the driver’s seat.
I enjoyed the experience of giving my children driving lessons, but God is better at it than I’ll ever be! I never expected to be the one to learn a lesson today, but that’s how God works. Let your experiences with others remind you how to be more like God, and I believe you’ll be better at giving driving lessons too!