He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. — Psalm 91:11
When our daughter Hillary got her driver’s license, one of her friends — who had clipped a mailbox early in his driving career — said he’d give her twenty bucks if she could go a whole month without hitting anything. I quickly realized that my parental admonitions to “be careful!” were nothing compared to the satisfaction Hillary would get out of looting her friend, and when the first month passed without incident, I thought about slipping the guy another twenty to see if he could get her to go double or nothing. I’d read the reports about distracted driving — how texting while driving is six times more dangerous than drunk driving, for instance — and I wanted my girl to stay focused!1
Teens and cars — like teens and almost anything that runs on gas or electricity — can be an unsettling mix. Sometimes the end result is aggravating, like the burn mark on the bathroom counter from the hair straightener that was left on all day, or the broken window that failed to survive the rocket-launcher science project. Sometimes it’s a little bit funny, like the time one of my husband’s relatives tried to unclog a toilet by using a cherry bomb (don’t try it), or the time my girlfriend’s daughter closed her eyes while piloting a motor scooter so she could “feel the breeze in her face and the wind in her hair” — and wound up feeling a mailbox. And sometimes it turns into a parent’s worst nightmare. I’m not the weepy sort, but I still can’t hear my friend Anne tell her story without reaching for a tissue...
Anne grabbed a half-finished Gatorade and shoved the bottle into the trash bag she was holding. With all four of her children involved in multiple sports, she sometimes felt like
her car was a locker room. She pulled out a sock from under one of the seats, grateful for a sunny Saturday and a moment’s peace so she could get herself organized for the week ahead.
Fifteen minutes earlier, Anne had waved goodbye to her husband, Bob, and their oldest daughter, fifteen-year-old Peyton. Peyton had been driving with a learner’s permit for a month, and when Bob said he wanted to catch up on some work at his office, Peyton had offered to drive him there. The ride would allow her to log some highway miles, and she figured she could use the weekend’s quiet to study while her dad worked.
Anne could hear her seven-year-old son, Robert, playing basketball with a friend. Suddenly, another sound pierced the air: it was her cell phone, which she had — providentially — brought outside while she worked.
“Hello,” she said, cradling the phone under one ear.
The voice on the other end was incoherent. It sounded like Peyton, but Anne couldn’t make out her words. Whatever it was, something was terribly wrong.
“Peyton — calm down!” Anne cried out, her heart pounding. “Tell me what’s wrong.”
Peyton continued to scream, her words coming fast and on top of each other. A few words suddenly cut through the jumble: “I killed Daddy! I killed Daddy!”
Anne’s vision blurred. She knew she was going to faint. And then, in an instant, she felt calm and detached — like this horrible drama was unfolding in another world, happening to someone she did not know.
“Peyton, please calm down,” Anne repeated. “Catch your breath.”
It was as though her daughter had not heard. Peyton continued to wail. Finally another voice came on the phone — one that Anne did not recognize. “Your husband and your daughter have been in an accident,” the woman said. “Your daughter is fine, and the rescue workers are with your husband right now.”
Adrenaline took over. Hardly knowing what she was doing, Anne grabbed Robert and his friend, pushed them into the car, and began driving. “Jesus, save my husband!” she cried, over and over again. “Please, Jesus! Save him!”
When she reached the highway, all of the lanes were clogged. Seeing rescue lights in the distance, Anne steered her car into the emergency lane and sped forward. She got as close as she could, and then, telling the boys to stay put, she jumped out of the car. A fireman approached.
“Tell me the truth!” Anne begged. “What happened to my husband?”
“He’s alive,” the man said, “but they’re taking him to the hospital. The car flipped three times.”
Anne’s eyes searched the scene. She saw the ambulance, and then her white Suburban, its top crushed nearly flat and its windows completely gone. No one, she thought, could have survived. Suddenly, Peyton was there, crying hysterically.
“I’m so sorry, Mom. I’m so sorry!”
Anne hugged her daughter tightly and then released her into the arms of a stranger. She had to find Bob. Hurrying toward the ambulance, she could see a stretcher inside. She pushed past the crowd of medical workers and threw herself onto her husband. “Please, Jesus! Please...”
I met up with Anne later that day at the hospital. Bob was still in the emergency room. He had suffered a slight concussion, and the doctors were busy taking glass shards out of his head. Apart from that, he was fine. And aside from a few cuts on her legs, Peyton was unharmed as well.
“It’s a miracle!” Anne said. “It’s a miracle that they crossed three lanes of highway traffic and didn’t hit any other cars. It’s a miracle that they’re alive! The man who pulled Peyton out of the car asked her if she believed in angels. He saw the whole thing happen. — and he said that angels had saved her. I believe it.”
I believed it too — particularly after Anne shared one of her favorite prayer verses with me. “Psalm 91,” she said. “Especially verses 11 and 12, where it says that God will give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways and bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. I pray these verses pretty much every day for my family.”
Psalm 91 ends with God’s promise that when we acknowledge His name, we can call on Him and know He will protect us and answer us. He promises to be with us in times of trouble and to deliver us (verses 14 and 15).
I remember speaking at a church in San Francisco, where I had been asked to talk about the power of praying the Scriptures. Afterward, an older gentleman approached. His eyes were bright blue, and they glistened with tears. “I was a teen when I served in World War II,” he told me. “When I came home, my father showed me Psalm 91. He said he had prayed it for me every single day while I was gone.”
That’s how it is with God’s Word. It never changes. A psalm that was written three thousand years ago is just as potent and applicable today as it was eighty years ago, when a young soldier fought in Europe, and as it was just a few years ago, when a young driver was on the highway. The power David recognized when he wrote Psalm 91 is the very same power we can tap into now.
The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.2
When you pray the Scriptures, you tap into the same power that has been working in the lives of teens forever.
- See NHTSA.gov for statistics on teen driving and recommended rules that parents can set.
- Isaiah 40:8.
Excerpted with permission from Praying the Scriptures for Your Teens by Jodie Berndt, copyright Jodie Berndt.
* * *
This one is personal for me because I’m teaching my fourth to drive. Psalm 91:11-12 is a wonderful chapter for parents of teens. Let’s memorize it together! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full