learning to drive

Like most 15 year olds, I could not WAIT for the freedom driving would bring. I was always young for my grade in school and was one of the last one of my friends to get my learners permit. My birthday is in late May, but because of travelling and summer camps, I wouldn’t get a spare day to take my learner’s test until July 19. I remember the day so clearly because I would kick myself a year later as I (not so) patiently waited until I was 16 years and 2 months old actually get my license to drive.
My dad drove me to the DMV as I frantically studied my state issued drivers’ test study guide. The DMV was like this enchanted hell-like place I had only heard stories about but was so anxious to finally see the terror myself. Once we arrived, I was slightly disappointed to find there were not in fact patrons dying and yelling, but to find the DMV was a cold place filled with uncomfortable plastic chairs. I passed the “Knowledge Test” by the skin of my teeth and waited in line to have my photo taken and then waited a little longer to get that coveted piece of plastic. I held in my hands an Instructional Permit, one step closer to freedom. I beamed with confidence. I was licensed to drive (with an adult over the age of 21 in the car.)

My dad had driven his massive truck to the DMV so as he drove us home I was under the impression that we would go home and switch cars to the sedan he normally drove and I would start my life of freedom. But alas, that was not his plan. We were minutes from home when he pulled over at the middle school near my home, abandoned because it was Saturday. He put the truck in park, turned to me and said “Alright, let’s learn.” I instantly felt like a child, all the confidence I had gained from my personal piece of plastic freedom drained faster than it came. I turned white and shook my head; scenes of me crashing into the buildings and causing such catastrophe no one would survive.  I eventually made it to the driver’s seat and sat, for about half an hour, scared stiff. All the while my dad was carefully encouraging me: “You can do it… I’ll be right here… take it slow.”

What my dad was teaching me was an invaluable lesson that I’ve kept and held onto for most of my journey with Jesus. This year, I’ve tried my best to manage stress. I have a tendency to jump in headfirst and I suddenly find myself flailing about (or crying on the floor) in need of saving. Jesus has taught me to take things one-step at a time. A dear friend once gave me advice and it makes more sense by the day,

“What’s the next best thing?”

When I was learning to drive, it was an obvious set of steps. Foot on the brake. Car into drive. Accelerate. Brake. Put car in park. Repeat. That first day I was so terrified because I wanted to dive headfirst into freedom, but I had to take it one step at a time.

Today, this translates into different steps, different “next best things.” We can and should step out in the confidence of the freedom we have in Jesus; we can also know He is right there carefully encouraging us, “You can do it… I’ll be right here…take it slow.” He has given us the freedom to live in confidence, but not our own; we have the confidence of the Holy Spirit.

Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help. (Hebrews 4:14-16)

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