Theology for the Long Haul

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Happy is He Who Doesn’t Drive Like a Fool

If you don’t look too closely, my red Ford Ranger looks a little bit like that red Mini Cooper Jason Bourne drove down that flight of stairs in The Bourne Identity (at least I like to think so). You’re laughing now, but if you were riding in the passenger seat you would be holding that handle above the window and praying for divine intervention. I AM A BAD DRIVER! I can’t tell you how many times my wife has had to remind me that we have children in the car, or that I don’t have enough life insurance. OK, I’m exaggerating a little but I think you get my point.

Why can’t I be second when the light turns green? Why do I have to see how many cars I can get in front of before the 3rd lane runs out? Why do I get so mad when two trucks take up both lanes of the highway (going 55 with their regulators wide open and talking on their cell phones)? This stuff makes me grind my teeth and think thoughts I would be ashamed if Jesus knew (uh oh). 

The other day I went to the dentist and he told me that I have cracked, that’s right cracked, a few teeth from grinding them. What is the matter with me? Something I’m coming to realize is that “bad driving,” at least for me, is a symptom of a bigger problem. When I really pause to evaluate my thoughts throughout the day, I find that I am all too often ruminating on some past offense, some unhealthy interaction, that guy who cut me off, or just something I am worried about. Working hard to get A’s in seminary, looking for a job, being a husband and father of two energetic boys, sleeping 6 hours a night, and working to make ends meet; feels like a lot some times. I’m thankful that God has always helped me to find time to spend with him (even if it’s in my truck in between work and school), but I realize that my mind is ruminating the rest of the day on thoughts far less noble, like: being first, satisfying some desire (I think I’m possessed by the demon of Taco Bell), comparing myself to others, and so on.

What it really comes down to (I think) is trust. Do I really trust God? Is He faithful enough that I don’t have to worry? Does He love me enough that I don’t have to ”beat people off the line” to feel valuable? Isn’t this why I drive like a fool? Aren’t I afraid that the rest of the world thinks they’re better than me, and I need to show them they’re wrong? I wonder what Jesus would say about all of this…

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:4-9 NIV)

So what’s more important, that I get to the light first, or that I have peace? I don’t think it’s possible (for me) to have both. It’s not just about a momentary decision; it’s about the condition of my heart. OK, I’m going to place my secret desire to be a clandestine operative/stunt driver on the altar… from now on I’m pledging to drive like a man who has the peace of Christ.

Lord, help me to truly believe that you love me and that you have my best interest at heart. Please, fill all of the empty places that I try to fill with selfish thinking and living, and make me mindful of your nearness to me… that will be enough.

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