Sometimes God has to get me out of my comfort zone and to confront my fear in order to attain something valuable.
The big day had arrived. I was going to have my first driving lesson, at the ripe old age of 29. After many years of putting off lessons, I finally felt the time was right for me to learn. I wanted the freedom of driving, but I was filled with anxiety. As I shook hands with my teacher and took my place in the driver’s seat, I was completely calm on the outside. But on the inside I was silently screaming. I took a deep breath and turned the ignition key. Thankfully, nothing terrible happened, and during the next few weeks I began to get a little more comfortable behind the wheel.
But I wasn’t happy with my progress. I thought I should be learning more quickly; I often felt foolish and slow. Whenever I learned a new skill, it seemed as if I immediately forgot an old one. Being a learner was difficult, especially as a “recovering perfectionist.” I was used to being competent and in control of my environment—the teacher, not the student. But now I was suddenly making many mistakes.
The clutch was my nemesis. I could never seem to keep the car from stalling. Whenever I saw a red light or a stop sign, a sense of dread would slowly well up inside me, as I knew that I would likely stall the car and irritate other drivers. Some of these experienced drivers seemed to forget that they had been once learners too. They passed me recklessly, honked their horns, or impatiently followed, mere inches behind me. “These are all the things you shouldn’t do,” my teacher commented wryly.
But as uncomfortable as I have felt, being a learner is good for me. I’m not only learning to drive, but to be kinder to myself and to others on their journeys. My driving lessons are also spilling over into other spiritual applications as I consider my relationship with God.
God is described as a teacher, and the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth (cf. Ps. 71:17 and John 16:13-15). Sometimes God has to get me out of my comfort zone and to confront my fear in order to attain something valuable. Moreover, I have moments when I’m tempted to think that because I grew up in the Adventist Church, I already know all that’s needed. Then God has to remind me that there’s always more to learn. As Ellen White wrote: “Higher than the highest human thought can reach is God’s ideal for His children. Godliness—godlikeness—is the goal to be reached. Before the student there is opened a path of continual progress. He has an object to achieve, a standard to attain that includes everything good, and pure, and noble.”*
The learning process into which God invites me can be awkward and humbling. Yet even when I’m slow to grasp something, He is a perfectly patient teacher. He knows that what He has to teach me will lead me into greater freedom.
What are you learning lately? How do you treat the learners in your life?
* Ellen G. White, Education (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1903), p. 18.