Learning to Drive

Warning: This blog is not about driving a motor vehicle.

I have a confession to make. I have no idea what I was thinking — or if I was even thinking — when I chose the title for this blog. It popped into my head and from my head to my fingers poised and ready on the keyboard of my laptop. Thought — written word.

For a second or two, I was channeling Donald Trump, trying to walk in his shoes. I’ve heard you shouldn’t judge someone until you’ve walked in their shoes, so I thought I’d try that approach to understanding the reality show star Americans have chosen to be POTUS. A second or two was about as much as I could handle. As soon as I committed myself by typing a few words, the portion of my brain not included in this experiment said, “Hold it! You were planning to write about Scripture. You looked through the list Arla sent you and chose Scripture. What does driving have to do with Scripture?”

Nothing. Driving has absolutely nothing to do with Scripture, except perhaps   metaphorically. Driving is about change, about changing your location, about getting from Point A to Point B. In the broadest sense, Scripture also is about change, about helping us to get from this earthly life to an afterlife that is desirable — heaven.

However, to read the Word of God with only that goal in mind deprives us of a greater change that can occur in our lives right here and right now. Our hard hearts can be softened in the warm light of God’s Word. Our recalcitrant minds can become amenable to new ways of experiencing life if the seeds of God’s Word begin to shape our mental pathways. We can become new creatures. We can be born again, born of the Spirit, which Jesus told Nicodemus was essential to seeing the Kingdom of God (John 3:1-6).

Various Christian denominations and sects have different ways of explaining what it means to be born again. I don’t know that there is only one explanation; I tend to think that God speaks to each of us with a voice we can hear and understand, one which resonates within us as true. That being said, I also think we must remember who creates and recreates.  One of my favorite passages from Isaiah lays it out plainly: “Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; See, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? In the desert I make a way, in the wasteland rivers” (43:18-19, NAB).

God does the new thing within us. God makes a way in the desert of our hate and our judgmental attitudes and everything that drives us apart from one another. God causes rivers of mercy and justice and love to flow through the wasteland of destruction that arises out of our inability to see others as fellow sons and daughters of an ever-living, ever-loving God.

God does this. He does it one person at a time, one heart, one mind at a time. But he needs a tool, and Scripture is that tool. I think that if we start — preferably with one of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark or Luke) — to read just a little each day, and if we allow those words to settle within us like a gentle rain on parched earth, we will find that we move from wherever we are right now to a place of greater compassion, greater kindness, greater wisdom and more peace. We will experience the miracle of being reborn, of feeling God’s living waters flow through us into the world.

And then, if we’re lucky, the words that pop into our heads and come out will be words that drive away evil and build up the Kingdom of God in this world.


2 thoughts on “Learning to Drive

  1. I’m sure when I gave Mary of list of topics to blog about, I had something in the back of my mind. Those ideas have evaporated. So instead, I’ll begin by telling my first driving experience.

    I was 5, and literally, just 5. My birthday had been less than a week prior. What started as a beautiful day turned into a memorable April blizzard. Hours before it started to snow, my parents had turned a herd of cows out to graze a new pasture. But these cows had calves that were at the most a month old. Once it started to snow, the cows had virtually no protection on their new pasture so they had to be moved about 3/4 mile to get behind trees. I think my dad was leading the cows with a tractor and a hayrack. I think our hired man and my 8 year old brother were following the main bunch on 3-wheeled ATV’s. I know I was with my mom in our pickup to follow any stragglers with really young calves.

    My memory is a little fuzzy on the details of that day, but I can clearly see the black cow standing over her speckelled face calf. The calf was only about 24 hours old, wet, tired, and ready to give up on life. The cow kept trying to nudge her baby along, but he wasn’t negotiating. Until my mother happened on the scene…..

    “I’m going to get out and walk these two up to the yard.”

    In all my innocence I asked, “what am I supposed to do?”

    As she shifted the 4 wheel drive lever into “granny low” my mother told me “you can either drive this along the fence up to the yard or stay here.”

    “I’ll stay here.”

    “No. You’re going to drive up to the yard,” as she shifted the Chevy down a gear and got out.

    “But! I don’t know how!! I’ll get lost! What do I do?!?!?”

    “Just stand on the seat and steer! Just go along the fence! Follow the cow tracks!” The pickup was grabbing for traction in the snow. The cow was looking completely confused, almost like “I yell at my baby to tell him I’m coming for him. You yell at yours to leave. Wait, did you just abandon your child to help mine?”

    The Bible might say “do not fear” 365 times, but that day I learned a new prayer: “Oh, God. Oh, God. Oh, God, please help me.” I was saying that until my brother and our hired man found me a few minutes later mostly still in panic but closer to the yard. My mom, the cow, and the calf who seemed to take a new interest on life followed a few minutes later.

    If you know my mother at all, you know that her frustration that day wasn’t typical. Even in under those circumstances, she’d quote Philippians “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Or maybe Psalms “the Lord is my rock and my salvation.” For years, a plaque with Paul’s words in 2 Timothy “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” hung above her nightstand. The first time I ever read Proverbs 31, images of my mother came to mind.

    Caretakers of livestock can be found in the early chapters of Genesis. Noah takes a pair of every species onto the Ark; God promises to bless Abraham with herds and flocks of livestock. Shepherds tending their flocks were among the first to hear of Jesus’s birth. Jesus used livestock parables to teach His flock. In Revelation 19, Jesus is to lead an army riding white horses.

    With every one of my favorite scriptures, I can see a ranching scene. Sometimes, ranch work is mind-numbing boring. In this tedium, my mind is allowed to wander. I read the story of Lazarus one morning before checking cows. The words “Jesus wept” haunted me: Jesus is the Son of God! He should have a better understanding on love, earthly loss and eternal life than anyone. Yet, here was Jesus weeping because his friend and mentor had died. So Jesus went back to Lazarus, and Lazarus became alive again; it became Jesus’s biggest miracle at that point.

    As I rode my 4-wheeler, I kept pondering what that meant for me. Mostly, I wished Jesus had talk-to-text technology so there would be more description in the Bible. But if Jesus could feel that much pain and sorrow over this life, why couldn’t I mourn a “good-ole” cow’s passing or the death of a calf? Why couldn’t I allow myself to be angery when a cow didn’t want her calf? Why couldn’t my mother get frustrated with her 5 year old daughter in the middle of a blizzard?

    Life isn’t easy. Careers, family, hobbies all pull us in different directions. Only occasionally, they intersect. But its in those moments when everything intersects that we know we’re on the right road. We know that the fears of learning to drive are worth the scenery in front of us. And we know there is One mapping our way.


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