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Friday, April 20, 2012

Adolescent Milestones: First Driver’s License, God’s Footprints

     If you have been following this week’s story in the “Adolescent Milestones” series, you might be wondering how understanding God has anything to do with this teenagers striving to get licensed to drive a car and her relationship with God. Does everything, even normal milestones, have to have God’s footprints in the middle of it? The answer is a resounding, yes. We are not putting God in, He is putting Himself in, just as any good Father would. Everything that has to do with His kid has to do with Him. He is already in the middle of it! That should be a comfort to us.

     The purpose of sharing my journey in understanding God with you is to help us all take a look at just how God has always been in our lives but we didn’t see Him. The driver’s license story is a case in point. I was a casual church-goer at this point in my life and did not know about having a personal relationship with the Living God yet. Just because I didn’t know Him, didn’t mean He didn’t know me.

     When considering the “First Driver’s License” scenes, there are a couple of Scriptures that jump out easily. That helps me see that God went before me and knows what is about to happen. Often, He will make a way of escape from calamity, if only we would humble ourselves and take it! One of the most-quoted verses in my university group of friends was I. Corinthians 10:13, recorded here from the New American Standard Bible (NASB):

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

     And a little farther down in the same book, I. Corinthians 15:33 we read:

“Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals.”(NASB)

     Or, as recorded in the New International Version (NIV):

“Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.”

     My friend was not a bad kid, but, clearly, the character my parents were trying to develop in me was not the same as was being developed in her. I knew what she was asking me to do was so wrong, and the fear of getting caught and disappointing my parents, made the whole day a stress and not at all the fun day promised. I am not sure why I even wanted to “fit in” or have her like me; I just did. I was willing to do what she wanted me to do in order to have a fun Saturday. But my understanding God knew that this was the situation for me. He provided a way of escape a couple of times; I just chose not to take it.

     Possibilities for escape:

     1. My mother thought it too long for me to wait in the library. I could have used that as an excuse to get me out of the whole plan right from the get-go. “My Mom will never believe I will stay four-and-a-half hours in the library. I’ll get caught, for sure.” But, instead, I abused her trust in me and proceeded with the plan.

     2. The tire goes flat. God is so kind to this stressed-out teenage sinner. She can easily understand, now, why her father made her learn to change a tire even before she learned to drive. Nevertheless, while she was able to change the tire herself, God had other plans to help her.  A teenage friend comes along that off-road in town at just the right time. And, not just any friend, but a guy whose uncle could make the needed repairs and return the car to the pre-adventure state. Escape now, Sojourner, before anything worse happens to you! God got you out of that one, take the kid home and go to the library while you still can. Alas, God even brought down a torrent of rain to help me make the right decision. Still, I ignored the voice of reason and listened to the sinful suggestion to just continue doing what was wrong. I even hate being cold and being out in the rain! What in the heck was wrong with me? Why didn’t I take God’s ways of “escape?”

     Well, for one thing, the longer I lingered in the sinful state, the easier it was to just stay there. Remember in the beginning, Sojourner was frightened of messing up in the driving and being humiliated as much as afraid she would get caught, right? A couple of hours into the adventure, she saw how much better she was doing with the clutch and began really enjoying the transgression. Then the flat tire jumped in to remind her that all was not well. What had happened that she didn’t quit then? Possibly her heart was already beginning to harden? She knew what was right and what was wrong but she didn’t care? In Hebrews we are warned, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts,” followed by examples of the trouble that comes when people do not care what God thinks and just go ahead anyway.

     By the end of the day, when Sojourner was dropping off her partner-in-crime, the decision had been made. She would never do that again, though her companion figured they would live to do it again on a sunny day. I believe that God understood, all too well, just how fragile Sojourner’s resolve would be later on and arranged for the rain-soaked breaks to fail. It could have been so dangerous on that busy road, had it been another day with normal traffic. Certainly, Sojourner was scared out of her mind but not in any real danger when she was without brakes. It is also just like God to not let this happen when Sojourner was alone or with the other unlicensed friend but with her mother, who would know what to do when Sojourner’s thought processes had frozen from fear. Sojourner would never forget that day; it was not likely the adventure would be repeated. It wasn’t!

     Sojourner found mercy from God in her prayers before bed that night as she confessed to the Lord and begged His forgiveness. She had had enough of the price of sin in that one day. Her heart was still soft enough to care that she had displeased the living God in her search for adventure.

     Proverbs 28:13-14 says:

“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Blessed is the one who always trembles before God, but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble.” (NIV)

     Or, a bit more in the common lingo:

“People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy. Blessed are those who fear to do wrong (or those who fear God), but the stubborn are headed for serious trouble.” (New Living Translation)

     I was not interested in heading for serious trouble! I had learned my lesson. I had other lessons to learn as I grew up, away from childish ways and into the maturity both my parents on earth and my Heavenly Father worked hard cultivating in me. I am so grateful that God understood, helping me through the difficult times instead of striking me with lightning or squishing me like a bug! He really does love me!

     And, dear Reader, God really does love you, too. Take a moment to walk through your own adolescent memory lane and see if there might not have been an incident or two when God was offering you a way of escape but you didn’t want it? He will not condemn you because you didn’t take it! He just wanted to spare you the consequences of a bad decision but His love is greater than your transgression. Can’t think of anything? Just ask the Lord to show you His thread through your life. He cared about us long before we were old enough to tithe, lest you think it is just our money He’s interested in. I’ve known Him since I was seven years old, at least, but have not always been the best kid in His world. Still, He loves me and He loves you! My first blog last October was a story that shows how, even at seven, we can need God in our daily lives. How much more do we need Him in our stumbling, wobbly adult lives!

Link to first Blog:

****Have a great weekend!

1 comment:

  1. Good Morning Sojourner,

    This very well may be the best article I've read so far on your blog. It as they say, "preaches!" I could visualize you under direction of the Holy Spirit, delivering it in sermon form, especially to a group of rebellious young girls. You caught me with a beginning "hook" phrase: "anything to do with His kid" interests the Father. WOW! When I was growing up we were "kids." Now, the word "children" is more frequently used. I love the feeling of informality in your choice of "Kids!" Yes, God knew me intimately before I gave Him even a little attention. He has used every experience in my life, even regrets and shame to bring me into a personal relationship with His Son. Romans 8:28-29.

    Wing His Words,
    Pam Ford Davis