Anonymity. This is what most people seem to feel like when they get behind the steering wheel of their autos. Especially those with the blackened windows, even on the front windshield (which should be illegal – it’s like driving with sunglasses on even at night! But that’s for another blog.)
The anonymity we feel driving allows us to do things that if we knew the other driver or recognized faces, we would never do. How guilty I feel typing this as it has often been a “clinging sin” of Hebrews 12:1. My bride of 31 years has often tried to help me, sometimes wisely, sometimes with aggravation, sometimes with good effect, sometimes with greater frustration.
A recent conversation about this came up after some clown ran a stop sign when it was MY turn! So I pulled forward and blared on my horn to let the redneck know HE was in the WRONG! Of course, seeing my SUV lunging toward his open window required he give me what he felt was an appropriate “Hawaiian Salute” with a single finger. Anita was very upset with my behavior and afraid I was going to wind up in a wreck and she wanted to go home. But our ensuing conversation finally got to my heart. Somehow the Holy Spirit was able to break through all the layers of anger and bitterness that lay there toward other drivers . . . who drove the way I used to drive.
Later, my mind wandered back to college as I prayed for forgiveness, first for scaring my bride, second for trying to scare the scofflaw driver, third for not listening to the Holy Spirit soooo many, many times. “Lord, forgive [my] sins and cleanse [me] from all unrighteousness” . . . again. A memory of Cecil was triggered. He was a transfer from another school and had a car, a luxury in my circle of friends at that stage of our lives.
Once I asked him for a ride into the city and since he had some time free and we often enjoyed chatting, he gladly agreed. As we got in his car, though, instead of instantly starting the engine, Cecil said, “This will just take a minute.” (???) He leaned his head down, closed his eyes, and prayed. “Father, thank you for blessing me with this car and C.A.’s friendship. Help me to remember You are in the back seat, and keep us safe on our errands.” And with that he started the car and headed into town.
I have no memory of our errands or where we went other than another time to a park outside the city. But I DO remember this: when we finished whatever errands we were on we returned to his car, he again bowed his head and talked for just a moment to his Lord about our trip back to campus. And every time we got in his car, he would spend a moment communing with his Master, and asking for safe travels. Sometimes he would pray for specific things about our travels, sometimes for other things on his mind as we would begin, but every time, BEFORE he started the car, he would pray.
So somehow the Holy Spirit brought this memory of when we were 20 years old to my mind and asked me why I wanted to be anonymous in my car. The Lord’s prompting suggested that I was leaving Him out of the car when I would drive, and He wanted to be with me. (Imagine, the KING wants to be with ME!?) Alone, I wept for my hardness of heart, my ineptitude in driving, and my inconsideration of the deceit with which other drivers were dealing.
And as I prayed I recalled an encouragement from a friend in Alaska: “Most of us don’t seem to realize how we can be a testimony of God’s grace with our cars.” OUCH! That was so many years ago, and I still was blind to what Father has been trying to get into my hard head and harder heart.
But He finally got it into me. Now whenever I get into my car, I first pray. I ask Father for safe travels, for patience with those who are deceived and think they should be able to violate the laws. I request The God Who Is to make me aware that the other drivers are people He loves, even when they are inconsiderate, even behind blackened windows and with stereos bouncing their car off the pavement. And I ask Him to remind me from His seat in the car that I should obey the laws and show His grace to others, as my bride has so often asked me to do.
If you think of me this week, please pray that I will remember His Presence more consistently.