I was driving on the highway last week and there is a digital marquee that said since January the state of Tennessee has had 288 highway fatalities. I wondered out loud how many people would get distracted in reading that sign and cause an accident.
Then yesterday, I noticed that the death toll was now at 318. If your math sucks as much as mine, you need a calculator to put it in better perspective. Let’s see…yes, that’s 30 deaths in 7 days. That’s almost 4 deaths per day. And this isn’t a combination of all the states or includes Tennessee residents with long-term illnesses. Nope, this number is only for the fatalities of Tennessee drivers on the highway. Pretty big number right?
This got me thinking about how there must be a lot of bad drivers out there. Actually, I know there are because on a daily basis, I feel like my car is Frogger and I’m braving the streets to make it safely to point B in one piece.
The other day I was on the highway, minding my own business, going a healthy 3 miles above the speed limit in the middle lane. The car to my left (in what we all know as the passing lane) was going a little bit slower than me so, naturally according to physics, I was slightly ahead of her. If I was behind her in the left lane, this would have annoyed me because she shouldn’t be in the passing lane if she’s planning on staying and cruising there. But I was perfectly content middle lane-ing it so she could do whatever she wanted. Which is why I found it odd that she decided to swing her car behind me suddenly and then tail me for a good 2 minutes, fist in the air, red-faced yelling something at me. Lady, I can’t hear you, I’m in a different car.
Don’t worry, I did give her the benefit of the doubt. I looked around for Godzilla. Nope. I looked in the air for a meteor about to hit the Tennessee highway. Nope. I looked in my backseat to see if I was about to be slaughtered by an axe murderer. Nope. Oh that’s right, you are just being a crazy Tennessee driver.
Sometimes when I look around at all the bad drivers, I wonder how they got their drivers license in the first place. Somewhere in time, twilight zone or not, they read the same driver’s handbook, took a test, agreed to be safe and cautious and someone handed them a little card that deemed them officially legal to drive. I’d like to believe in that moment they were of sound mind, with no intention of getting into a car accident, must less breaking any traffic violations on the road.
Now, I know I am not a perfect driver. On occasion, I make a careless mistake while I’m most likely daydreaming and I find myself jerked back into reality. But I shrug it off and hope the cars around me offer me some grace. After all, it was a one-time lapse of judgment. We all get a couple freebies, right?
I think this concept can be applied to how we live our lives as Christians. We all read the same life manual, are aware of the do’s and don’t of life and made a commitment to live our lives as a reflection of Christ. We are deemed Christians, followers of Jesus Christ. And like driving, one single mistake on the road could not only destroy your life, but the lives of those around you.
I noticed that just like my driving slip-ups, I expect grace when I make life mistakes, justifying them as one-time lapses of judgment. Like my road rage, I have life rage. I see my fellow brothers and sisters driving around carelessly and I get angry. “They read the same book I did! They should know better than this!”
I use to see God like a traffic cop; handing out tickets for our careless driving, slapping our wrists and making us attend classes to learn how to live a holier life. Whenever I saw someone breaking a traffic violation I would yell out loud, “Where is a cop when you need them!” But that’s not who our God is at all. No. In fact, I think we are the traffic cops. We are the ones that are so quick to pull out our little notepads of tally marks and pointing out even the smallest of traffic violations of our peers.
Joshua 1:8 says, “Do not let this book of the law depart from your mouth. Meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.”
Let’s face it. As humans, we’re all pretty good about spotting bad life drivers. But God call us to work on ourselves and our own terrible driving not point out the mistakes of others. Interesting that this verse doesn’t say, “Meditate on it day and night so that you can tell everyone what they are doing wrong and be better than them.” That’s because we are all the same. We read the Book, said a prayer, made a vow and God handed us the privilege of this beautiful ride.
That means every road, every highway, every traffic light and everything else in between on this journey is a series of choices. Read the manual, follow the signs and maybe we could all try to drive a little more safely.