My daughter and son came home yesterday from helping their Grandparents in a nearby town. My 21 year old daughter announced that she and her 15 year old brother had stopped by the DMV and acquired a Learner’s Permit. Then Anne said something that made me weak in the knees and a bit lightheaded:
“Joel wanted to drive as soon as he got his permit so I let him drive home.”
Without any previous experience behind the wheel, or behind the break pedal, he drove across town during rush hour traffic.
Excuse me, while I find a paper bag, I am hyperventilating just thinking about it.
This is not merely anxiety, this is not fear, no, this is sheer terror. I could only think in fragments: “no experience . . . both children in the car . . . gone in a flash . . . what were they thinking?”
After I checked them over for deployed airbag fragments, I sat down and started to breathe again. God is good. God is good all the time. They are safe.
Once again, I could breathe. Once again, I could think. Once again, I could hear my son talking: “Hey. Mom, what’s for supper?”
This is the best way to experience sheer terror. This is terror after the fact. There was no longer need for terror or worry because even before I could protest, God had sent angels of protection to follow them. The terror hit hard, but moved on when I could see that my children were safe. However, bits of it came back, later, when my son backed into the neighbor’s mailbox and then took both hands off the wheel while trying to decide which was left and which was right.
I know a little bit about terror. Because of God’s urging, and my decision, my family is embarking on a huge adventure. Besides teaching Joel how to drive, I have begun a doctoral program at the University. In order to do this, and finish before I retire, I have asked for a peaceful release from my call as a teacher at Faith Lutheran School in order to go to graduate school full time.
This is sheer terror. It comes over me in waves. It turns in my stomach and eases out of my body in heavy sighs. What have I done? I left a job I loved, working with a great staff each of whom is a dear friend. I left a comfortable place with a vital ministry. I left in order to torture myself and ruin the family budget doing something I am not sure I can handle which may not ever result in a related job.
My prayer is borrowed from a New Testament father: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:14-25)
This father understood the feeling of terror. His son was possessed by a demon spirit and suffered from seizures. He went to the disciples who, fresh from the experience of the transfiguration, tried to exorcise the spirit themselves. Terror struck again as the resulting seizure proved their efforts to be useless. In come the teachers of the law, arguing, and as always, looking for a way to trap Jesus.
The father plead his case before Jesus begging: “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
IF? Does he know who he is talking to here? This is the Son of God who feeds five thousand people with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish. This is Jesus who heals the blind, deaf and lame. This is the long promised Messiah. IF?
I pray this father’s prayer because, by the power of the Spirit, I do believe. I pray this father’s prayer because due to the weakness of my faith I struggle with unbelief.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24