Friday, April 1, 2011

Driving Lessons from My Parents

Driving down Route 9, my learner's permit nestled proudly in my wallet, my dad in the passenger seat, I am riding the brakes, tentative, looking for the spot where I know the speed limit changes from 40 to 25mph. My dad opens the passenger door.  Just a little.  And he sticks his foot out.

"What are you DOING?"  I ask him.

"I'm just going to get out and walk," he replies, chuckling, "I'll wait for you when I get where we're going."  I shriek, "DAD!"  We laugh.  He knows we're going somewhere, and he's eager to keep moving.  He wants me to get to my destination.

Another day, driving past my high school with my mom, we approach the familiar railroad tracks.  She turns off the radio and starts rolling down the window.  She tells me that I need to come to a stop at the tracks, and I need to listen for a train, in case there's one coming, and I happen not to see it.  I oblige.  "You must be kidding."  But she isn't.  She knows I'm her only baby, and the thought of the flashing railroad lights being out of order and the chance that I might not see a train chugging down the tracks laid in the wide open field inspires her to come up with safety rules the Driver's Ed program clearly must have overlooked.  She wants me to be safe.

I laugh, thinking of my parents teaching me to drive.  I still talk to them about how to get where I'm going.

I talk to my mother about challenges and obstacles in the road.  How I want to avoid them.  My mom tells me that God is just as concerned with what I'm going through on the way to where I'm going as He is in getting me to a certain place.  She tells me that He uses the journey to prepare me for the destinations He has planned.  It's the bumps in the road that God uses to refine my character and to equip me.

My dad and I talk about dreams.  Things I'd love to pursue that are new and different.  He tells me to get on the road and start driving.  My dad says, "You can always make mid-course changes in direction.  But not if you're sitting in your car in the driveway."  He's still encouraging me to keep moving.  He believes I am on my way toward good things, even as I am enjoying good things now.

It feels like my own kids are fast approaching driving age.  It scares me to death, to be honest.  I want them to be safe.  I want to teach them the important things.  I want to help them dare to move boldly in the direction of their God-given dreams and gifts.  I vowed 17 years ago never to make my own children listen for trains, but I might just once.  For old time's sake.

"I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth.  These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them."  Isaiah 42:16

"The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged."  Deuteronomy 31:8

Some of you are moving through rough patches of road.  Some of you are feeling a little apprehensive about getting out of the driveway and moving toward a new goal.  I'm praying for you today to be filled with the confidence that if God's in the driver's seat, you can keep moving boldly forward.  If you need to make a change in direction, the Lord will show you when and how.  


  1. Thanks, Shannon, for being such an encourager! You've definitely had awesome teachers :) And I still keep one of your dad's messages (my personal favorite) in mind... the one about if Jesus calls you to walk on the water, you've got to get out of the boat! Love you all!

  2. That's a great phrase! I love it, Nanci - it definitely sounds like him! He's got some great cd seminars he's done in the past few years, too, which I love :) They're on his website, if you google Neil Gass Ministries. You may like them. One is about getting in the driver's seat (if you're in the mood for more driving advice from him - I'm noticing a theme!).
    Love you,too!

  3. How sweet are your parents? They were the one who personally taught you how to drive! It was my grandfather who taught me and he was also the one who bought me my first car. I know you’ll be a good driving instructor to your kids too. Good luck!

    -Marvis Carswell