Once we have found ourselves traveling down God’s Holy Highway, with the wind of the spirit at our backs and the bright morning Son lighting the road ahead, there are still some basic driving tips we can follow to make the trip safer, more enjoyable and problem-free.
One of the many jobs I have had to help pay my way through seminary is a Driver Instructor. No joke! For a few years I had the privilege, or punishment, of teaching hundreds of 15 year-olds the basic skills of safe driving. It’s a terrifying thought that I am partly responsible for putting over 500 teenage drivers out on the roads!
I have sat through hours of the classic videos filled with haunting images of twisted metal and personal stories of traffic fatalities. I have gone over the mind-blowing statistics, noting the considerable risks and responsibilities that come with driving. We all know that these are all “scare tactics” to try to break through the teenage attitude of invincibility. There is no greater challenge than trying to impress upon these carefree teenagers how serious a matter driving really is. “There are not always second-chances in the game of life,” as we like to say.
Older, more experienced drivers are not immune to this way of thinking. Veteran drivers struggle with overconfidence and over-familiarity. Driving has become so second nature that they rarely give driving the thoughtful, undivided attention it deserves.
We find the very same challenge facing us when it comes to the spiritual journey. The younger crowd thinks they’ll live forever, and therefore give little thought to eternal matters. They are caught up in the moment, rolling with the daily punches. Carpe Deum!
The more experienced travelers of life are so wrapped up in the thousand thoughts and tasks at hand that they rarely stop to reflect on the meaning behind all the madness. Others assume they have the route figured out by now. They’ve simply set the cruise control, often forgetting they still need to steer—and possibly stop for an unexpected obstacle that comes their way!
Whatever driving habits you may have formed over the years, allow me to bring you back to some of the basics for just a moment and see if we can’t learn a thing or two to keep us between the lines for many more years to come.
The number one cause of all automobile accidents is driver distraction and inattentiveness. Take your eyes off the road for only a second and that’s all it takes. Likewise, disciples of the kingdom must not allow themselves be distracted. We must continually fix our eyes on the road ahead.
Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God (Heb 12:2 MSG).
We must keep our hands on the wheel at all times, never turning around and reaching for things in the backseat. Or, in the language of Jesus’ day: “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). Following Paul’s lead, we must forget what’s in the backseat and focus on the road ahead, “pressing on toward the finish line” to receive “the prize of the heavenly call of God in Jesus Christ” (Phil 3:13-14).
Remembering the example of Brother Lawrence, we are striving to attain a “simple attentiveness and a general loving awareness of God” wherever life’s roads takes us.