In Texas, you can start taking driving lessons at 14 if you make some certain date of birth cutoff – which I did. So at 14 I learned how to drive, at 15 I got my permit, and at 16 I got my license. I could not wait to drive. My sister had this beautiful blue Honda Element – her name was Ellie, and I couldn’t wait to drive her. She became mine for the next 10 years, what a great car – she’s off delivering flowers in Memphis now, living her best life. But I digress. I remember taking the test with my high school bestie Viv, and I nailed parallel parking (still do) while she “went the speed limit” and “took lefts on protected turns”, or something law-abiding like that. We both passed, but it wasn’t real quite yet. Ye old DMV was the final barrier between my license and my vera bradley coin purse. We went on my 16th birthday after school, and I had straightened my hair for the occasion, which held up only slightly under the oppressive Houston humidity in August. I got my number, stood in line, had my documents clutched in my sweaty hand, took the vision test, and got a temporary license. Still not really the real deal. So when the plastic card showed up later that month, I took my inaugural drive in Ellie by myself to school or Sonic, I think – but I remember lining up a song as the first song I would listen to while driving by myself in my own car! It filled me with more than pride, it filled me with an independence and happiness I can’t really nail down.
In the purest way, this is what the Lord does.
With Him, there were no tests to take, no screening to pass, no sweating hands hoping nothing would thwart the fulfillment of what society had promised me. He is so much better than some rite of passage, some cultural milestone. He gives us a new identity freely and fully, no conditions on the back of our card. No amount of speeding tickets or wrecks or vehicular manslaughter or fire hydrant parking ever revokes our new identity in the Lord. He pursues us, time and time again, bestowing this gift no matter our qualifications or age or ability, but by His blood, paid for by His life, His sacrifice – through this and through this alone He gives us an ID that transcends earthly laws and geopolitical borders and political agendas. He grants us an eternal, irrevocable citizenship of Heaven – the best identity there is.
“It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for.”
– Ephesians 1:11 MSG