Beep beep!: driving

So following on from my massive struggle/freakout/God’s got this blog I wrote a few months ago (see here), I passed my driving test!

I stupidly booked it for the week after a Christian Conference during which I would have absolutely no time to practice, and plenty of time to overthink. During my lessons, I had always struggled my first lesson back after I’d been out of Formby for a while. I assumed the week away at New Wine would be no different and so I decided to have 6 hours worth of lessons the week before in the hope that something might stick for longer than a week.

I wasn’t at all convinced that this plan would work, but, took the risk and spent the money on 6 lessons anyway.

And then something clicked. After all those many many hours of prayer that it would ‘just click’, it seemed to do so. At the end of those six lessons, my instructor and I discussed postponing the test, but he really felt that it was worth my having a go, even if I failed. So I stuck with the date and went off to New Wine.

I dived into the busy, deep, creative, tiring and joyful world of New Wine as I had done the year before. For hours at a time I forgot about the looming driving test. I watched the guy who drove the 7 hours down south and back very carefully, hoping to capture some last minute tips from someone who could drive.

I got home from New Wine feeling damp and smelly from camping, but also peaceful. Unusually for me, I just felt ‘whatever will be will be’.

The next day, I had my final lesson before my test. That morning the depth of peace continued, but more than that, I felt so grateful. I was grateful because I could face doing my driving test without wanting to die, pass out or projectile vomit. I never thought I’d get to the place where I could face it- but there I was; ready. I knew absolutely that this transformation was not of my own doing, but by God’s grace and therefore I was grateful.

It was a warm afternoon on that last lesson, and I found myself driving down a busy street with the car windows open. We stopped at some traffic lights and out of nowhere, ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ started playing on an organ. No such instrument, nor church, anywhere near by. The instructor looked around and asked ‘Where is that coming from?’ and he could see nothing.

I don’t know who or what played that music but it spoke to me very clearly: God was with me.

The day of the test came and again, I felt peace. Peace that I had never experienced during driving in the many, many lessons and practices I’d had to that point. I didn’t mind what the result was. God was with me and he had already worked a miracle as far as I was concerned because I was ready.

I got in the car to do my test with the examiner, drove round Southport for a bit, did the best parallel park I’d ever done (and ever will do!) and ended up having a chat about church, sermons, dwindling congregation numbers and his wife’s life-changing illness.

We got back to the test centre and he asked me how I thought I’d done.

‘Ok, but I’m not sure what the result is’ I replied.

He drew a big breath. ‘I have to tell you that you came so close to passing…’

‘Noooo’ I said, with my head on the steering wheel.

‘…without fault’ he continued. ‘You passed with one minor, congratulations!’

Well, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry!

I had no expectation of passing first time, so much so that I’d no idea how to change my insurance policy, nor how much my updated insurance would cost!

Learning to drive has been such a journey, and it continues as a new driver. From motorway driving on my own for the first time when I got pins and needles in my hands from gripping the steering wheel so tightly, to the car failing it’s first MOT with us because it wasn’t as good as we thought it was when we bought it. I think driving, and cars, will be one of those life-long learning things for me.

So there it is! I can now truly say: she is clothed with dignity and strength and laughs without fear of the clutch pedal*

*unless driving up hills in the Lake District. I’ll need a bigger car with a bigger engine before I try that again!

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