Parking Lot Training

I had been sitting in the vacant, multi-tiered student parking lot of a college campus for about an hour when they pulled in.  I had gone there to pray and seek God’s direction.  The car stopped in the empty tier below me.  The driver left the car running, got out and walked to the trunk.  He took out a small stack of orange cones and placed them purposefully in several areas of the lot. He closed the trunk and walked to the passenger door.  He opened it and let his young, teenaged daughter out.  He put his arm around her and pointed to the cones he had placed.  Then he walked her to the driver’s side, closed the door after her, and jogged around the car to take his seat as the passenger.  Who knew God would use this father and daughter to answer my prayers.

I had just finished a series of interviews for a job in youth ministry.  I had been unemployed for more than a year just doing odd jobs to pay the bills.  I wasn’t sure about anything anymore…where I was going, what I was supposed to be doing, what path I was supposed to take.  I felt good about the interviews but just wasn’t sure that this job was the right direction for me.

The young girl in the driver’s seat was barely visible over the dashboard.  The car surged as she accelerated and dipped sharply as she stopped.  A few of the cones tipped over as she misjudged the turns, but slowly and methodically she made it through the course that her dad had set.  Then she began all over again.

As I watched the young driver struggle I sensed the Lord’s answer to my prayers.  He said, “Daughter… I could hand you the keys of the car and set you loose onto the streets.  I know that you would eagerly get behind the wheel and ‘wing it.’  You would do what you knew how to do and perhaps even have some success at it.  BUT, that is not what I want for you.  I don’t want my daughter to ‘wing it.’  Instead, I want to teach you.  I want to set a course for you in the safety and security of a parking lot so that you can learn what to do before I send you out.  Trust me.  Learn from me.  Wait.”

It will probably come as no surprise to you that the next day I found out that I did not get the job.  My pride was a bit hurt, but the rejection was confirmation of what the Lord had told me in that parking lot.  It was another year before I got a permanent full time job and it was not in youth ministry.  In fact, my career path changed altogether.  It’s been 15 years since that day and over that time the Lord has done just what He promised.  I don’t think I’ll ever be a youth pastor, but I know that I am being trained by my Heavenly Dad for whatever He has planned for me.  Through it all I’ve learned that it’s not about getting the keys… it’s about spending time in the parking lot with Him!

Whatever you may be struggling with, don’t be discouraged if the Lord has you in parking lot training.  Let Him teach you and soak up every intimate moment you get to spend with Him there.  We can only be effective “gloves” for Him if we are intimately connected and led by the One who fills us.

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