There comes a time in every parent's life here in the US, when they have the task of teaching their budding youth the most primary task in our society: driving. (I can hear you all screaming with me). Honestly, I've been looking forward to this. I need help with the chauffeuring. P.J. knows this so he has dreaded learning to drive and fought the process tooth and nail.
Ok, so I get him out in a parking lot to practice. This is where I discover the secret to the terror of driving lessons:
I don't have brakes.
He now has the brakes. I can tell him to stop. I can scream in horror. I can faint dead away, but none of this matters. If he doesn't hit the brakes, the car won't stop. Control over direction is nice, but when things are coming at you fast, it's the brakes you want.
I have discovered that this is a profound observation. It seems like this comes up as a constant issue in raising a teenager. I can tell him "No" but it just doesn't have the same punch these days. He has to make his own decisions and even if I scream at him about getting up at a decent hour or making sure that all of his assignments are turned in, he is still the one who has to execute. I can't do it for him. Letting go of that control isn't easy for anyone, but when you care so much about that person, it's ridiculously hard to let them do things that you know will hurt them. At some point they have to learn for themselves and that means letting them make mistakes.
This is one of the most amazing things about God. The fact that He ever let us make our own choices astounds me. It looks like the supreme misstep in all creation. I understand that He is far wiser than I am, but wow--talk about giving up the brakes! I know we couldn't truly love Him if we didn't have the choice to love him or not, but what a cosmic scale risk! He endows us with His very own image--so that all of creation does a double-take when comparing us to Him, and then He lets us loose to run the show here on earth. From the foundation of the world, He had a plan to handle our disasters, but how it must hurt the heart of God to see us make the choices we constantly, foolishly make. Yet He still chooses intentionally not to take our free will back as some "What was I thinking!?!?!?" mistake.
Yet, I hear Him whisper, "For every terror of a bad decision, I remember even more the delight of choices made that honor Me, reject self, and grow into the image I have placed on you. Even more, I have given you the opportunity to rely on Me, and at that choice, I place My Holy Spirit within you so that you have the chance to complete My joy at your freedom in Me."
And I remember the joy I have at seeing PJ grow and succeed and those delights far outweigh the terror of our afternoon driving lesson--white knuckles and all...