Lately, my kids and I have been reading and discussing various scriptures during our twenty-minute commute to school. We dissect proverbs about wise and foolish people; another day we discuss a psalm about worship or lament (God can handle anything you tell him, I say). Currently, at their request, we are following the life and adventures of King David.
As we pulled away from the house one recent morning, I handed my phone to my twelve-year-old son next to me so he could open the app and start reading where we had left off the day before. Before we reached the stop sign, however, I noticed the strange thumping sound and dragging feeling behind the car. Flat tire.
We pulled over in the turn lane on the main boulevard through our neighborhood. I called my husband to come rescue the kids and get them to school, then AAA to come rescue me. And we waited, watching school busses and cars pass us on the boulevard on their daily drive to school. We decided to read more about David while we sat there.
In that day’s reading (1 Sam. 19), David fled from Saul’s moody ravings and murder attempts, seeking refuge with the prophet Samuel. When Saul sent soldiers after them—three separate times—each time the soldiers were overcome by the Spirit of the Lord and ended up prophesying with Samuel. Even Saul, when he finally ventured out to do his dirty work himself, was overcome by the Spirit and eventually left peacefully.
What was the point of all the prophesying stuff? Keeping it on their level, I merely told them that no one can resist the Spirit of God. When God wants your attention, he’s going to get it. God can make bad things work out for good.
If I had been really on the ball, I could have made the connection with the kids that I’m going to make here: God can turn an annoying burden like this flat tire into a blessing.
As David complained to Jonathan about his crazy father (ch. 20), I noticed a man park on the side street near us. He got out and began walking our way. “Hey look, guys, this fellow is coming to help us. Isn’t that great?”
I told the helpful man that we had rescuers on the way and that we were doing fine, but thank you very much for offering. As he walked back to his car, my son said, “Dad would have done that.”
Pleased at his observation, I nodded, but before I could reply aloud he followed up with, “Dad has done that.”
Yes. Yes, he has, time and again. My husband is that kind of guy, the servant-leader that our alma mater Dallas Seminary often talks about. He’s the neighbor edging along the sidewalk all the way to the next driveway or mowing really long rows across both yards. He’s the driver stopping to help change a stranger’s flat. He’s the principal stepping in to teach a class when a teacher is having a particularly terrible day. He’s the friend taking an eight-hour round trip to visit his friend’s mother in the hospital for cancer treatments. He’s the dad taking his kids along on service projects with the church deacons. He’s the husband on his way back home to rescue his family from the side of the road.
He’s the dad living the gospel out in front of his kids.
We are doing our best as parents to teach our children God’s truth as we “walk [drive?] by the way” (Deut. 6:7). My exploration of scripture with the kids on our daily commute is valuable. It will benefit their thinking and add to their knowledge of God. But words escape our memories faster than actions do. Their dad’s example of faithful service will stick with them so much longer. Much as “a picture is worth a thousand words,” my son can identify the right thing to do less because he’s heard me teach about it, and more because he has seen his dad do it.
He also learned how to change a tire by watching his dad—not AAA—do it.