“Let the clutch out slowly,” Dad was saying.
All I had in mind was racing the engine trying to get it to move forward.
“The clutch, Son, let the clutch out...” before he could finish speaking I did let the clutch out. The car lurched forward violently and died, quivering in pain.
“Start the car,” Dad instructed. I did, which of course was followed by more vehicular violence. “Push your foot in on the clutch first, then turn the key.”
I did. No more whip lash.
“Slowly let the clutch out and lightly accelerate.” The car began to move. “You still have your foot on the clutch.” As I removed the offending foot the car gave a spectacular show of what it must feel like to ride a bull. Once more it died.
There was only one minor consolation in all of this misery and that was that I was driving on a little used dirt road out in the country.
I tried so hard but every time I would dump the clutch and the car would shudder its disapproval. Dad would simply repeat the steps which I could hear in my dream, “Press in on the clutch, put car in gear, let out on the clutch and lightly press the accelerator.”
There came a moment when I finally got the car moving and my foot was no longer on the clutch. The engine began to whine as I traveled faster. ”Press in on the clutch and shift to second gear.” I pressed in on the clutch and accidentally tried to put it in reverse, oh the wailing and gnashing of gears. Once I got the car in second gear we were going slow enough that it only shivered and died.
“That’s it,” I yelled. “I’m never going to learn to drive. This is just too hard, Dad.”
I exited the car and looked back and forth along the deserted stretch of country road. My dad never moved from his spot in the passenger’s side of the car. He never called after me. He didn’t even turn to look at me.
When I got tired of looking at tumbleweeds and gravel I walked back to the car.
I was about to say something when dad simply said, “Press in on the clutch, put car in gear, let out on the clutch and lightly press the accelerator.”
This was a day that I will remember for time to come. I was so angry with my dad. He could see that I was having struggles; he could see I didn’t want to do this thing called driving, he could see how frustrated I was becoming yet he made me do it anyway. He never yelled, he never argued, he never criticized but he wouldn’t move from the passenger’s seat either.
If we were going to get back to town it was because I did the hard thing in front of me and learned to drive. He could have done it all for me but he wisely chose not to.
I am suddenly struck by the fact that our relationship with God can seem so much like learning to drive. We don’t understand how it is supposed to work, we read the instructions but they don’t seem to help. God’s instructions are clear but we can’t seem to understand it all. We get mad thinking that God somehow got things wrong or that He’s asking too much of us and we storm away waiting for Him to come to His senses.
He waits knowing that we will someday come back to Him for help and while we struggle to understand His will, He leaves us with the assurance, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5 – NIV).
Suddenly I realize I’m tired at looking at tumbleweeds and gravel.
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