“Did he actually speed up as he veered into that turn?”
As I held on white-knuckled, all the driving memories of Sons #1 and #2 returned as Son #3 practiced his new skills. The spin-outs in the snow, the crawling along too slowly, the speeding up too quickly. Training a new driver is among the most fearsome tasks a parent endures. The good news is that they generally improve and soon their carpooling skills become among the most appreciated aspects of parenthood.
While I was bracing myself as my son sped into that turn, I realized how the control issues I’ve battled and battled against have not yet been won. This was a discouraging realization, to say the least. I’ve spent a lot of time in prayer over the past several years and I thought I was making some genuine strides against this familiar sin, but the desire to control this two-ton vehicle by grabbing the steering wheel from my young son was strong. Had I made zero progress up till now? Why had I thought I had? Had I deceived myself?
I’m not sure I’ve met a mother who hasn’t struggled with some form of control issues. We may all be at various stages of the fight, but there seems to be something innate that drives us to control our surroundings. As a young mother, we must corral our little “ducklings” towards what is good and direct them from what is harmful. Part of training them includes modeling over and over again. What we desire to see cultivated in them is what we show them and teach them. We do this for an end goal, and we control the situation from start to finish…until around age 13.
This age may vary considerably from home to home, but at a certain point our children will begin making their own decisions. They develop their own goals and methods to achieving them. This is healthy independence in action! But, for a mother, this often comes with a learning curve. We become so accustomed to controlling the circumstances for our children’s favor that it can be unnerving to see them make choices that could be detrimental to them.
After raising two sons into adulthood, I needed to step back and analyze my control issues by spending some time with the Lord. While it was painful, God showed me real sin in my life. He helped me trust Him more. Over time I began to see real changes in myself. The Lord was at work! Perhaps this is the reason I was most discouraged that day in the car with Son #3. Why was I so frightened by his driving? Why was I so concerned about being out of control? Hadn’t God been changing me in these areas?
It was tempting to be discouraged. It was tempting to think no work had been accomplished in me. It was tempting to condemn myself. But, then, I realized the benefits of this situation.
Humility. Of course, I thought I’d battled and won against control in my life. I hadn’t had any current reasons to think otherwise. When life is going in our favor, we may think we’re sinless. We may even look upon others and wonder why they can’t get their act together. I’m satisfied that I’m no longer the way I used to be. I even begin thinking that I had a whole lot of something to do with it too. These may be extreme thoughts, but God was revealing my heart. I hadn’t thought I had been proud of the work God had done in me, but, my sin revealed some of these thoughts. It was good for God to reveal the weakness of my flesh. He was humbling me and prompting me to fight my independent heart. Kindly, He was reminding me that He is the One who gives me any power to fight my sin.
Progress. While I would adore being fully sanctified right now and not having to fight my sinful nature any longer, this is not the way of humans during this life. However, the mere fact that I am not as I used to be is a glorious testimony to God’s work in me. It’s encouraging to know that He is molding me through trials so that I look more like His Son, Jesus. It may become frustrating in the battle against sin, but take heart because God has begun a good work in you and He will finish it! Look back at how you used to yell at your children daily. But, now God has stirred up His Spirit in you, and self-control and patience mark more of your days than not. Or consider how you used to eagerly serve but it was in your own strength and skills. You would become offended if unappreciated. But, now you see your great need for God so much more. You know you must pray for Him to fill you with any ability to serve. In doing this, your heart is more content with Him regardless of whether others notice or not.
Sonship. God provided me with a situation that revealed my need for Him. He disciplined me in the midst of my lack of trust. He reminded me that He is with me, changing me so I reflect His Son more. These are truths that our heavenly Father teaches His children. My Father knows me better than I know myself. Instead of listening to the enemy of my soul (who happens to be the father of all lies), I will rejoice that I am a child of God! In the joys and in the rebukes, my Father loves me. I will press on in His loving care.
Maybe an old sin has cropped up again in your life too? Or maybe pride lingers where you think you’ve slayed a sin? This could be the right time to spend with the Lord to see how He is at work in you. Examine how cooperative you are being with Him. And, trust that He is for you and forming you.