Thursday, May 19, 2011
Secrets of a Driving Instructor - den Boer
“There are lots of things I’d like to write about, but don’t,” I replied.
“Like things Angela does. She’d never give me permission.”
Angela’s eyes opened wide. “Like what?” she challenged.
“Like, I’m taking you out driving tomorrow. I probably won’t be able to write about that.”
Angela, her newly acquired beginner’s permit burning in her pocket, had driven in a parking lot once with her father. He came back shaking his head and she came back begging that I go with her next time. “He expects me to know everything already,” she lamented.
Angela had also driven the family van the final mile to Oma den Boer’s house in the country where we were spending a few days during Christmas holidays. That little trip with Angela at the wheel produced large butterflies in my stomach. I think it was because she tended to drive on the very edge of the road, very near the ditch.
Just thinking about our upcoming lesson knotted my insides. I prayed, “Lord keep us safe and help me be a good teacher.”
I remembered Mr. Tripp, my high school defensive driving instructor who went out with entire classes of teenagers, three at a time. He exuded calmness. He always sat back, casually sucking mints. He never raised his voice.
We saw him as a man who enjoyed his job and did it well.
And why not? Even though he was at least 50, he could spend several hours each day cruising the countryside with bright and witty 16-year-olds and get paid for it.
The driving lesson
That Boxing Day morning when Angela and I headed out on her driving lesson, there was practically no traffic on the country road where Oma lived. The lack of traffic made it somewhat easier for me to exude a Mr. Tripp-like calmness.
At one point, a large farm vehicle approached. I don’t recall just what it was—I was too busy thinking about slipping into the roadside gully as Angela steered wide of the approaching vehicle.
Our next test was a German shepherd trotting towards us on the right shoulder of the road as we made our way up a hill and around a corner. Angela gasped and veered blindly across to the left side of the road. Thankfully there was no oncoming traffic.
“Umm, Angela, the life of that dog is not as valuable as ours,” I quietly hinted.
The dog episode was followed by several challenge-free minutes. Angela looked over at me and smiled, “See, I haven’t given you anything to write about.” As she gazed at me waiting for an answer, the van drifted across the road.
“Uuhh...” I uttered pointing ahead.
I continued to direct Angela up and down numerous side roads and in our effort to avoid major highways, she turned around in countless farm lanes. Her skills improved as the minutes ticked by.
“Why do you keep looking at your watch?” she asked. “Is this boring for you?”
“Oh, no,” I assured her. To maintain my Mr. Tripp veneer I thought it best to not mention the turmoil in my digestive system. It occurred to me, those mints Mr. Tripp was always popping—they must have been Tums.
The Lord did answer my prayer. After an hour we arrived back at the house unscathed, and I’m sure not even Mr. Tripp could have done a better teaching job.
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. (John 16:13)
As we drive the road of life the Holy Spirit is our teacher. Unobtrusively directing us, guiding us, loving us, and letting us learn from our mistakes, He’s the ultimate teacher. He doesn’t make mistakes and doesn’t need Tums as he guides us into all truth.
An excerpt from Blooming, This Pilgrim's Progress
Marian den Boer blogs at Blooming
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