The moment has arrived. The milestone for parent and child, the embarkation toward new horizons, new freedoms and responsibilities, and the angst-filled moment for all concerned.
My son Isaac and I are at the DMV.
He is applying for his learner’s permit, and I am tapping at this laptop attempting to distract myself from my parental jitters. The iPod is whispering classical music into my ears.
He and I have had numerous conversations leading to this moment. The whole range of what freedom and responsibility means, what is expected of new driver, the costs involved in driving.
Last night’s conversation was especially telling. I spoke to him about the responsibilities of being a parent.
I told him that it is a tough time for a parent. Part of it went something like this:
“it isn’t easy being a parent. It’s the most difficult thing I have ever done. Probably the trickiest thing I ever will do.
“My job is to take someone who is completely dependent on me and train them in all they need to know to be self-sufficient. My job is to maker myself, step by step, no longer needed.
"I have to give you freedoms and teach you how to be responsible for them.
“And this is a big one. You will be in control of a vehicle that is worth a lot of money, is capable of hurting, even killing other people, and use it as a tool to get you around in the world.
“My job is to make sure that when you leave my home you will know all you need to know. And frankly, buddy, this scares me.
“The reason they charge more for insurance for teenagers is because they don’t concentrate so well and they don’t have the habits to be safe. They are rolling around town in something that weighs a couple of tons, listening to music, talking with their friends, thinking about the fun places they are going and WHAM! They don’t see the car coming out of the driveway, or the bicyclist, or the kid on a skateboard.”
Isaac looked up at me from his pillow.
“I love you, Isaac. It’s my job to do this, to teach this to you, but it isn’t something that I am pushing on you. This is why I haven’t helped you get the paperwork together to do this. I figured that when it was important enough for you to drive you would get it all together and come to me.”
So here I am, sitting in this crowded place while he stares at that screen and ponders the questions.
I hope he passes... and I suppose a part of me hopes he doesn’t, so I can postpone the inevitable.
Ah... here he comes...
Well he didn’t pass. He is disappointed. He has gone to get the suggestions sheet which will tell him which pages of the manual he should study more closely.
So that’s it for this week.
I keep thinking about that conversation last night... the one where I share with him the issues of responsibilities. I talked to him about the responsibilities of learning to drive, but I also spoke about the responsibilities of being a parent.
There is a fascinating part of the Book of Job where God shares with Job the responsibilities of being God (chapters 40 & 41).
Isn’t that amazing?! God does not tell all, but He unloads just a little bit on His servant, enough to wake him up and remind him of who he is dealing with.
There is another hint of that sort of conversation when God approaches Adam and Eve after their sin:
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day...” Genesis 3-8.
It is clear that God had a casual relationship with people... that He spoke with them informally, in their land, their home.
Jesus did likewise of course... talking with people casually and everywhere, in streets, in homes, at wells, around meals, anywhere.
That is the sort of relationship we are supposed to have.
I’m reminded of the song by John Denver:
Now he walks in quiet solitude the forest and the streams
Seeking grace in every step he takes
His sight has turned inside himself to try and understand
The serenity of a clear blue mountain lake
And the Colorado rocky mountain high
I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky
You can talk to God and listen to the casual reply...
The way I have parented my children is to be firm, honest, and completely open. It is healthy to have such conversations. For them to understand where I am at when I have them do certain tasks, learn certain lessons.
I think that is also the way the Lord works with us. The problem is that for most of the time He is trying to talk to us we have our fingers in our ears and are loudly chanting: “Na na na na na na na na na!!!”
Isaac may have failed this test this time, but there will be more, just as I fail most of the lessons my Lord gives me.
But just as I did on the drive home, discussing the strategies of studying and test taking, the Lord is always trying to talk to me.
Sometimes He is very clear (like the last two words in this post)... other times it is a little harder to hear...
But I don’t believe He ever stops speaking altogether. I believe in the quiet of God, but not the silence of God.
He is the perfect Father.
Me? I’m just doing the best I can.