FROM PASTOR MEYER’S DESK: Life is full of milestones, isn’t it? And I would say that a majority of those milestones occur during the first 18 years. We’re getting close to one of those milestones with our grandson Ryder who can crawl like a little army tank, but who is also real close to taking his first steps. Sleeping through the night, getting potty trained, the first day of kindergarten, graduations from junior high and high school – all of these are milestones that young people look forward to. But without a doubt, the one milestone that they anticipate more than just about any other occurs when they reach their 16th birthday and they are able to drive on their own. It’s a milestone that most parents get pretty anxious about and one that requires a lot of training and preparation.
I remember when my dad took me out for my first-time-ever driving lesson. I was 15 years old and couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel of our car. He took me to the same road that I understand he took my brother and sister to. It was called the Prairietown Road. It wound through the country from Staunton to the small town of Prairietown about 7 miles away. The thing I remember most about that first time experience was that after I had driven for a few minutes my dad pointed to a sign ahead and told me to stop even with it. This, of course, was before the days of power brakes and much to my surprise I missed stopping at my target by quite a bit. It was then I realized that there was more to driving than what I originally thought. And I was very glad to have my dad sitting right next to me just in case I needed some advice or ran into some type of problem.
Now fast forward 46 years and take me out of the driver’s seat and put me in the front passenger’s seat while my 15 year old granddaughter Maliyah occupies the driver’s seat. Later on this month (October 22) she will turn 16, so she has been trying to get in the required number of hours driving with an adult in order that she can get her license that day. So on our recent trip to Branson in which Marilyn and I took Maliyah and Brooklyn, I figured she would be able to get in a lot of hours of interstate driving. Unfortunately, the day we left was the day we had those heavy rains, resulting in less than ideal conditions for her to drive in. But the trip home was different. So I handed the keys over to her and off we went. Since it was early in the morning when we left, there wasn’t much traffic in Branson or on the highway leading out of Branson that would ultimately take us up to I-44. And since she was doing so well, I figured I would just let her keep on driving, though I knew I would have to eventually make a big decision, namely, would I allow her to drive through St. Louis. I wrestled with it, remembering that I was probably 27 years old before I drove in St. Louis. And the only reason I did it back then was because I was forced to as I went to see a church member in the hospital there. I can distinctly recall having very sweaty palms as I drove over the Poplar Street Bridge while my heart thumped like a big bass drum. I wasn’t sure whether Maliyah, at the age of 15, was up to it. So I asked her if she wanted to give it a try. Without the slightest tinge of fear or anxiety in her voice, she said, “Sure!” So I let her. I told her to just get in one of the middle lanes and stay there, which she did. I also helped her follow the signs, especially when the traffic got heavier, and she did great. I was so proud of her. In fact, I let her drive all the way home, which meant she could add about 6 more hours to her required driving time.
As I thought about that, as well as the days I was learning to drive, I couldn’t help but think of the importance of having someone with experience, knowledge, and authority sitting in the front seat right beside you. I don’t think Maliyah would have made it all the way back to Salem and especially through St. Louis if it wasn’t for me directing her. She wouldn’t have known which exits to take or what lane she needed to be in. She may have even “frozen up” when the traffic got heavier and she had big semis and fast cars passing her on both sides.
Indeed, there is something to be said for having someone right there alongside of us when we’re trying to navigate our way through a big city…and when we’re trying to navigate our way through life. And the good news is that we do have Someone who has plenty of experience, plenty of knowledge, and plenty of authority. I’m talking, of course, about our all-seeing, all-knowing, and all-powerful God. In Isaiah 46:10 He says: “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” And then a little later in chapter 48:17 He says: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”
Interestingly those passages were written to the Jews when they found themselves in captivity in the land of Babylon. And while that was one of the lowest points of their history, God told them through Isaiah that the day was coming when he would raise up none other than a Babylonian king who would allow them to return to their homeland. In fact, God even names that king about 200 years before he’s born. He says in Isaiah 45:13: “I will raise up Cyrus in my righteousness: I will make all his ways straight. He will rebuild my city and set my exiles free.” And sure enough, it happened just as God said.
So the next time you’re driving down the highway of life and you encounter some unexpected twists and turns, remember, you have a Heavenly Father, a Heavenly Navigator right by your side at all times and He can see a much bigger picture of your life than you can. So rather than cowering in fear or being overcome by anxiety, follow the words of Solomon the wise man who says in Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowl-edge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
And if you ever question whether He is worthy of your trust, then take a little journey to the cross and behold the magnitude of His love for you and His trustworthiness. For there, in fulfillment of hundreds of Old Testament prophecies and in the person of His Son Jesus Christ, He took all of your sins upon His shoulders and suffered the punishment and penalty for them so that you would never have to know what that feels like. If He would do that for you, my friends, then don’t you think He is worthy of all the trust and confidence you can place in Him? I sure do. In fact, I believe with all of my heart that if you surrender yourself to Him, you can be absolutely certain that even though life will still have its share of challenges and detours, He will never steer you the wrong way,
Happy driving (especially you, Maliyah!)