My second child is learning how to drive. She’s doing well, but there are those moments. You know what I mean if you’ve ever had a teen driver. Those times when my foot almost goes through the passenger floorboard as I slam a brake pedal which doesn’t exist. Those times when I gently say, “Next time you approach a blind intersection, ease off the gas and slow down long beforehand. You never know what, or who, might be around the corner.” While my mouth utters those words softly, my mind screams, “Stop the car! Let me take the wheel. I want out of here!”
Driving a long stretch of freeway the other night, my daughter kept letting the vehicle drift onto the white line. The little reflective bumps sounded, thump, thump under the wheels. After a few of these drifting incidents she said, “I’m trying to let the car go straight, but it keeps moving over to the right.”
Ah, I thought to myself. Here’s a teachable moment. “Honey, you can’t expect the car to just go straight by itself. Your in charge of the car; you tell it where to go. That’s why you have a steering wheel. You must constantly make small adjustments to keep it between the white lines. Every car is different and you can’t expect the car to do the work. You must do the work of driving and directing the car.”
Isn’t that they way it is with our parenting also? It would be nice if our children, once pointed in a direction, continued straight toward that destination. Train up a child in the way he should go and all that.
But the training part takes times and energy. Training isn’t a one-time pointing toward an object; training is constantly making course corrections, some tiny ones, some large one, but all important to keep things between the lines.
When our parenting job is complete, our children’s trajectory will still need adjustments. We can continue to pray for them and give advice. But it’s at this point, the point when they are grown and not departing from the way they have been trained, that we will realize they still aren’t driving straight on their own accord. No one does. Our children, and we ourselves, only drive straight because Jesus has taken control of the steering wheel of our lives.
So, even though the words come from a song about something else, it’s okay to pray, “Jesus take the wheel. Take the wheel of my children’s life. Steer them toward you; steer them away from temptation and danger. Lord Jesus, make the course corrections necessary for my children to drive straight into your arms every day.”