It is amazing how God works in your life. The following story is an example.
Yesterday, I was going to a couple of stores for some minor shopping with my wife. It was mid-morning. There should not have been heavy traffic.
On the way, when transitioning from an area that was basically rural to a highly commercial area, we got stuck in a cluster of vehicles travelling a little over the speed limit. I was almost boxed in, but the traffic was moving steady. As I approached an on-ramp, there was a car matching my speed, trying to get onto the highway. I checked all of my mirrors and I barely had room to carefully move into the left lane, giving the person coming onto the highway the right lane. I turned on my blinker to switch lanes. Then suddenly, I saw a flash in the rear view mirror. A shiny black car was approaching at a ridiculous rate of speed. I sensed what he was going to do. He was going to squeeze through between me and the car in the left lane. I didn’t know if there really was enough room, but he didn’t seem to care. I stayed where I was. Within a fraction of a second, the speeder flew through the gap and weaved through a couple of other gaps and was gone. Each of his lane changes missed other vehicles’ fenders by only inches. In the meantime, the car coming onto the highway was probably very angry at me. I had not gotten out of his way, and he was driving over rumble strips on the shoulder. He slowed and pulled in behind me.
If the speeder is reading this, no one got a dinted fender, no one died, but my wife has a heart condition. I should send you the bill.
Don’t worry, my wife’s heart was beating at semi-regular rhythm by the time we got to the first store. On the way, we discussed how ‘into himself’ the speeder was. He was in a “me” moment. We were simply bumps in the road on his way to his destination. We prayed for him. We were concerned that his careless attitude on the highway would eventually get someone killed.
After completing our shopping, we went to the gas station before heading home. I had the trunk filled with our purchases and I had a watermelon on the back seat. I didn’t want the watermelon rolling around in the trunk and crushing things. The parking lot for the shopping area near the gas station was unnecessarily narrow. The driving lanes had curbs. As I was about a half block from the gas station, a monster SUV was coming out of the parking lot. The SUV had a wide turning radius. He was turning right, so the driver had no need of slowing down, or so he thought. After turning right, he would have been coming from the opposite direction toward me. When he was well over the center line and still not fully turned, I slammed on the brakes. The watermelon hit the back of my wife’s seat and crashed onto the floor. It didn’t burst, but it was badly bruised.
Now, the driver of the SUV realized what was happening and he stopped, backing a little so that I could get out of his way.
My wife lamented that it was a shame that these huge vehicle drivers had no idea where their vehicles were in the road. I agreed with her in that the large vehicles tend to drive down the middle of the road on the narrow roads in SW Pennsylvania. They seem to not know where their vehicles are on the road. They drive down the center thinking that their right tires are dangerously close to the edge, when they are not.
But I offered a different reason for the near-miss head-on collision. The guy had just come from the hobby and craft store with his wife. He was probably bored, glad that the trip was finally over. The only thing on his mind was getting home. All obstacles in his path could easily be run over. His vehicle was large enough to crush almost anything. He was in his “me” moment. He was not as reckless as the man earlier, but he cared of no one but himself at that moment.
While the speeder going to town never realized what trouble he had caused, the driver on the way to the gas station did try to correct the situation, although probably never correcting the underlying problem. Both drivers, having a “me” moment, would ask, “Who me?” They would never bring their self-centeredness to their conscious minds. They would never say out loud that the others on the roads were simply in the way, but their driving habits do not lie.
The Ten Commandments starts with one commandment that no one can follow. We are to have no other gods before Me (meaning God, not us). I don’t know of a living soul that hasn’t put himself first, or at least before God at one time or another. Most of us have “me” moments every day. I think back to the drive into town. I should have slowed down to let the car in the on-ramp in front of me. If I had, the speeder would have plowed into me or the car in the left lane, but looking back, I second guessed myself. Was I being selfish in not slowing to let the other car in? As the situation was dictated by the speeder, the speeder would have never been able to react to brake lights at the rate of speed he was travelling. That didn’t keep me from questioning my decisions. I try to look out for others. This is not entirely altruistic. Avoiding the drivers who are in “me” moments saves my car and my passengers from the pain of an accident.
Just a week prior, my wife and I were in Indianapolis. The loop had several lanes in both directions. Again, a car was coming onto the highway. I had plenty of time to adjust my speed. I turned on my blinker to change lanes, but the car that was hugging my left rear fender (only having a small corner of the vehicle that wasn’t in my blind spot) had his vehicle in cruise control. There were several vehicles tail-gaiting him. There were cars behind me, so braking wasn’t the best option. My only option was to speed up. My sudden increase in speed gave room for the car to merge onto the highway and allowed me to move to the right lane, since my exit was approaching. I tried to put myself into the mind of the car in the left lane. He had his vehicle in cruise control at the speed limit. He wasn’t changing lanes wildly. He was staying in his lane. How could anyone drive any safer? Yet, he wasn’t paying attention to what was happening next to him. He was having a “me” moment. When I drive with the cruise on, I will speed up when overtaking someone in the right lane. I don’t want to clog traffic. I have been stuck behind a car that takes 10-20 miles to pass another vehicle, because they don’t vary their speed. Traffic backs up. People get angry. Angry people do stupid things. Most states have laws against clogging traffic in this manner, some more specific than others. Yet, traffic laws can never overcome “me’ moments.
But back to yesterday, all of these traffic issues were going through my mind on the way home. While cutting up the watermelon and throwing out the part that had become bruised from the ‘crash’ inside the car, I felt compelled to do some reading. One of the books was an inspirational book that had Bible memory verses. Of the four memory verses that I studied, one was Philippians 2:3 which states (NIV) “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” Why did I study that verse on that day, with those thoughts in my mind? That was God talking.
I could talk about Defensive Driving school (military requirement, not caught driving badly) and things that I learned in driver’s education in high school, but what we each need to understand is that when we drive recklessly, we don’t ‘get away with it’. God is watching. When we put “me” first and others as bumps in the road, we diminish ourselves. It is one thing to teach someone to watch for other vehicles, people, animals, and potholes on the road. It is something altogether different to care enough about those people so that we drive defensively, for our sake and theirs. It is like the key to real Christianity, that eighteen inches from the head to the heart. Do we love our fellow man enough to drive with them in mind instead of thinking only of our agenda and our destination?
After reading the verse and reading about why that verse is important in the Christian life, I prayed that I could have a few less “me” moments of my own in the future. I prayed that those other drivers could come to know God, if they didn’t already.
You see. If we tune ourselves in to God, He will tie the events of the day into a neat little package. Okay, sometimes it takes more than a day to make sense of what just happened, but God talks to us in many different ways.