It’s quite amazing what a difference a couple of driving lessons make in terms of confidence building.
After my few abortive attempts to teach Kylie how to drive when she first got her Learner’s Licence, everything came to a grinding halt until last week when she finally had her first two lessons from a professional instructor. Just two hours all together, but I could see the difference they made to the level of confidence straight away. Self doubt, fear and anxiety quickly disappeared into assurance, strength and peace.
Yes, I have to say that I felt like a totally different person!
Oh! You thought I meant Kylie? No, she was fine and had been champing at the bit for ages to get back behind the steering wheel and start racking up the necessary hours and experience. I was the one who thought I’d never act as her instructor ever again.
I think it had something to do with that last roundabout we’d attempted on the third lesson (six months previously). I remember my pulse rate racing off the scale as I barked directions to my daughter, who then took her hands off the wheel in frustration and shouted, “I hate it when you keep telling me what to do!”
To which I hysterically replied, “I HAVE to keep telling you what to do, because if I DON’T tell you what to do, we’re going to crash and then we’re going to die!”
That was definitely the last lesson. As you can tell from that little communication interchange, my faith level had reached rock bottom and I’d come to the realization that when gifts and abilities were being passed out on the day of my birth, I was not standing in the driving instructor line!
But when Kylie arrived home from each of her lessons last week (from the man who obviously was standing in the right line on his birthday) I could tell from her enthusiasm and comments that she was actually doing quite well. This man had the patience and ability to calmly and clearly show her the right way to drive.
He also had dual controls.
My estimation of how long it would be before I ventured out once more with Kylie, began to shrink. In fact, by the time she’d had her second lesson, I was ready and willing to take her driving once again.
Since then, Kylie has happily driven the car just about every time I’ve needed to go somewhere and there's absolutely no question that the improvement has been quite dramatic. Even the dreaded roundabouts no longer pose any real problem for her and with every passing day I’ve found less and less need to pump my invisible brake or grip onto the door handle (in the hope that it may pull the car a little further in from the kerb).
The only times that I have needed to take over have been on the rare occasions when an awkward parking situation has loomed on the horizon or we've found ourselves in extremely heavy city traffic. In time she’ll have to handle shopping center parking stations and bumper to bumper traffic for herself, but not just yet. I’m not quite that confident!
The first big test came when I was driving the children home from a shopping expedition a day or so after her second lesson. We'd stopped at a takeaway food store for lunch and then as we were preparing to leave, I very calmly said, “Okay Kylie, grab your L plates and you can drive home.”
“On the freeway?” Kylie’s voice was a mixture of amazement, horror and excitement.
I couldn’t quite believe that I’d said it myself, but quickly assured Kylie that this was one of the best possible places to enter onto the freeway, as the entrance lane at that particular point never needs to merge with the other lanes at all.At least, not before our exit.
Kylie was overjoyed at the prospect of this new adventure and quickly took her place in the driver’s seat.
Now I’m not quite sure where Matthew’s mind had been when all this was happening, but it wasn’t until Kylie turned on the ignition that he seemed to realize his sister had taken over.
His tone of voice said it all. Back lanes and quiet roads with his sister in control of the wheel were one thing, but the freeway was something altogether different!
“But she’s just eaten!”
At that, Kylie and I stopped what we were doing, looked at each other, then turned to face the back seat protester.
“Matt, she’s driving a car. Not swimming the English Channel.” I reassured my nervous son with a laugh.
As Kylie began reversing out of the parking spot she added her own justification. “Believe me when I studied for the knowledge test there wasn’t one rule about not driving on a full stomach.”
I really don’t know what Matt was thinking, because when it came right down to it, the alternate driver (me) had just eaten too. But obviously, somewhere along the way, he’d created a little addition to the road user’s handbook, at least in relation to Learners!
As Kylie drove us home, I couldn’t help smiling as I thought of what Matt had said. But then I realized that this is something that happens quite often in life. People have a tendency to want to do one of two things. They either want to get rid of all the rules and do whatever they feel like, or else they want to expand the rules and make them even harder to keep.
There’s nothing new in this. If fact, both have been going on for millennia. When we choose to ignore the rules of life, then someone, somewhere along the way, is going to suffer; and the same is just as true when we decide to add to them.
When it comes to the things of God, we all know that whenever we disregard His ways, that’s sin. We also know that the consequences of that are very serious. However, we probably don’t often give thought to those times when we add to the things of God. That can be legalism in the extreme and the results of that are also quite serious.
Jesus was very straightforward in his comments about those Pharisees and Teachers of the Law who kept adding to God’s commandments:
At some point in time, I imagine that all of us have met people in church life who do the same sort of thing. They know God’s Word, but have added their own personal interpretations, rules and regulations to the truth. This is bad enough when it hinders their own spiritual growth, but unfortunately it usually impacts others as well. The need to have everyone conform to their understanding of the "rules" will either lead to alienation from other believers, or even worse, lay heavy burdens of legalism on the shoulders of their brothers and sisters in Christ.
Over the years I've learnt that there are times when God will reveal to a person that something is specifically not good for their particular life. That person is then accountable before God to avoid whatever that might be. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the same thing is to be considered a problem for another Christian.
We need to be so strong in our personal relationship with the Lord that we know what’s expected of us and are also able to recognize those times when someone is trying to weigh us down with an extra load.
Guilt has no place in the life of a child of God and it has no place in the Body of Christ. Yet there are actually quite a lot of times when it is pushed onto Christians because of man-made rules and regulations.
So how can we be sure what is and isn’t His will? Quite simply, we need to know our God.
How did Kylie know that Matt’s road rule wasn’t right? Purely because she knew the real rules off by heart. The same is true about knowing what God requires of our lives. When we have a close relationship with Him, based on prayer and time in the Word, we’ll be able to tell very quickly when something is, or isn't, of Him.
In Christ we've been made free. We need to truly understand what that freedom means and then be on constant guard so that no-one is ever able to put us back into bondage.
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