Tim is enjoying the freedom that a driver’s license has brought. He drives himself to cross country practice, youth events, friends’ houses, job sites and… the gas station.
Stacy and I are thankful that Tim can help us by moving himself and his siblings to various commitments. We remind him that the truck (a ’97 F150 with almost 300k miles) he drives is ours, not his. The availability of wheels is a privilege, not a right. We also expect him to pay for much of his own gas.
I’ll admit it has been fun (in a parentally twisted sort of way) to watch and listen as he debates with himself about where he will go and what he will do based on available gas and funds. Stacy and I smile and chuckle as he evaluates his options and makes decisions.
We (Stacy and I) have talked about this at length. We want Tim to feel the weight of responsibility that comes with buying gas (have you noticed that it’s over $3.50/gal?) and taking care of the truck. But, we also recognize that much of the gas that he burns, would be spent anyway. We would be taking him back and forth to practice, youth events, work and church if he couldn’t drive.
In a conversation two weeks ago, I found myself saying to Stacy, “I want him to feel the pressure of having to pay for his own gas, but I don’t want to crush his spirit with the heaviness of that cost.” So, as I’m having a Dad moment, trying to sort out how to teach my son about freedom and responsibility, I also had a God moment…
In his second letter to Corinthians, Paul said of himself and his team, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”
It dawned on me that as Stacy and I work through how best to shape Tim’s understanding of responsibility, privilege and ownership, we’re gaining personal understanding of how Father God works in our lives. There are times when I feel the weight and pressure of leading and providing for my family, directing this ministry to impact men and churches, serving others… the list goes on. You’ve got your own list… What’s on it?
Here’s the wonderful truth… there are moments of mercy, when God shows us clearly that he hasn’t forgotten us or our pain. He’s near. He’s for us. He’s just shaping us. We wouldn’t appreciate those moments of mercy without the moments of pressure.
I assure you, there was a smile on Tim’s face earlier this week when Stacy called him and said “Where are you? If you meet me at Kroger, I’ll fill your tank.” Tim appreciates the relief, because he knows what the pressure feels like.
I wonder… When has God shown you some mercy that you wouldn’t have appreciated without having experienced pressure first?
I feel the pressure, and sometimes think it’s too much (just like Tim). But, I’m still in training. I’m sure you are too. A friend of mine, Phil Downer (who actually will be one of our Richmond ISI speakers) encourages men to ask each other.
How can I Help?
God will use all life’s circumstances to grow us, shape us and prepare us for what’s next. But we may need someone to help us see what God is doing and that we won’t be crushed. I wonder, Who’s asking you these questions to help you process? Who are you asking those questions to help them grow?