My life changed again on Friday with the words, "He passed." She smiled at me and I didn't know whether to thank her or throw myself at her feet and beg her to take it back. My son passed his road test. He is a fully licensed driver, about to enter the roads and highways of the world at large. Literally. And within a couple days of getting his license we have a storm, ice, and slippery road conditions.
It's not so much his driving that I am concerned with. He's pretty conscientious, and took longer to apply for his license than other boys his age. But now that he has it, he is out there, along with his friends, driving to good times, and exposed to bad times. Exposed to risk. More risk. Just what I need.
"Alex, I'm not so much concerned about you as I am about the other drivers out there on the road, " I told him. "Just consider it a given that there are lousy drivers, wild drivers, drivers falling asleep at the wheel, and that they're out there on the same road you are driving on. Be watchful. That's about all you can be" I told him.
I'm happy for this next open door for him, and at the same time taking a deep breath. I'll have to be enlarged in my capacity to watch someone go out further into the world, knowing that the world is not a hospitable place. It's occasionally a delightful place to be, sometimes a wonderful place to be, but it's not hospitable.
The apostle Paul knew that and he declared it, even if by declaring it he sounded morbid or fatalistic. He wasn't. He was just extremely familiar with the punches, the snares, and the chains that the world specialized in.
He was telling his friends, his loved ones at the fellowship, that he knew what was ahead. He was not starry eyed about the kind of journey he was on. "And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me" Acts 20:22,23.
Chains and tribulations await me- how nice to know. Well, it may not be nice to know, but it's crucial that we know the rules of the game, that we know the realities of the world, the critical nature of the task or of the stage we are in. If I am going into uncharted territory, I at least would like to know the overall description of the territory I am about to walk into- is it rocky, is it green, is it harsh? I'd like to gear up for what's ahead.
Now I am not anticipating my son having a terrible time out there on the roads. I am aware, though, that he is going out further and further from the realm of safety, our home. But then again our home is not always a safe place to be.
Home should be a place where we are tested and refined just as much as if we were out in the world. It's just that the trials and testings that occur in our home should also come with comforting times and times of restoration, right at home. It should be the best of places and the worst of places- because it's real. Because home is where people live and thats the problem right there. People make mistakes. And you live with these people. You are one of these mistake-making people. I am one of them. Let the grace flow, then. Let the grace flow.
I wanted to write a jolly Christmas themed post today but I can't. I'm just not in a jolly mood. Not that I'm cranky or angry. Really. (I'm smiling contemplatively as I write this- can you tell?) What I am is... circumspect. From the Latin-circumspicere -to look around, be cautious. I'm counting the costs.
But I think you can count the costs and still count it all joy that you get to have a son who is stretching out, going out into the world, and most of all, taking that risk of entering a place that holds promise and problems, delights and danger. It's just the way the world is.
I also want to anticipate good; I want to expect joy. I want to anticipate the grace God gives, the messages He sends to our spirit readying us for what's ahead, and the hope He gives that nothing, nothing, nothing shall separate us from the love of God. I have a teenage driver on the road. You have a loved one who is sick. She has a husband out of work, over there in that corner of the world. And oh yes, I hear you too, calling out the fierce dilemma you are in. God hears even more so. He has readied the resources for our reality.
The roads are rough or sometimes wonderful. But I always hear this, every time I step out on a road that makes me feel shaky and vulnerable. I always hear God whisper daringly, "You haven't even begun to scratch the surface of my grace and power." The power that gets displayed- in my weakness. The grace that is poured out so freely that it's extravagant and shocking. When I taste just a bit of this provoking power of God, I can't turn back- even if I'm scared at what may be ahead.
I don't want to miss how God will show up. I don't want to miss how He will always, always have the last word, the final triumphant shout of victory in my life, in spite of my fears or hesitation.
I know there are more challenges ahead for me. Way more than just having a teenage driver on the road.
But I'm getting the sense that I don't have to make myself ready for anything except for....Him- showing up....Showing up Big Time.