Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Driving

We had snow Sunday morning. It had been predicted so it wasn’t that exciting except when our pastor went to give the benediction she made a comment that it was snowing and everyone turned around to look through the glass doors and windows at the back of the Sanctuary. It was a beautiful way to end worship.

I had come to Garland earlier in the weekend to spend some time with my daughter. By Sunday morning the forecast was dire enough that Beaven decided to stay home and off the freeway. He also called me to say that I should stay one more night in town and wait to come home on Monday. Now, I love my daughter and all that but I was ready to get on home. And driving on snow doesn’t really scare me.

I still remember the first time I ever drove in snow and what the experience was like. I was in high school driving all the way across town on some errand that I can’t remember. We lived in Oak Cliff but my boyfriend and other friends lived in another part of Dallas so I spent my senior year driving all over the place. This day it started snowing while I drove and I think that made all the difference. I experienced snow gradually rather than being faced with two inches at once. I was able to adapt my driving to the road conditions as they changed. On that drive I came to understand the feel of snow under my tires and drove through a few tiny skids. I learned the gentle touch required to steer in slick conditions. What I think I learned more than anything was the act of letting go of the wheel and letting the car have its way, almost like a horse that knows more about the trail than you do. A lot of driving on ice and snow is in knowing when and how to just let go of both the steering wheel and the gas pedal and pray like hell. So I guess I can’t take all the credit; once again, God helps a lot more than we give her credit for.

So, I wasn’t afraid about a little snow or my ability to get myself home in snow. Even when Beaven periodically called to tell me that the sheriff had run out of wreckers to send and how much worse the roads were getting. Or when I passed about five cars spun out into the fields along the interstate. I was just tired of the color white. I tried out a new technique I learned. I could tell a lot about the road by listening to the sounds my tires made on the pavement. I rolled my window once in a while to hear the reassuring sound of slush as opposed to ice.

I hate to brag and my daughters might not agree, but I think I’m really a good driver. Not much of a navigator but we can’t have it all. I think when God passed out the navigation talent I was off in the hall getting a drink of water. But I can steer like nobody’s business. I am great at steering a car. I’m also good at turning corners, stopping and starting. Just not so great at knowing where I am at any given time. I love to drive the middle school youth around. By that age they generally know their way around town. Or at least have a better sense of direction than I do. Just give me a 14 year old and we make a fantastic team. I have a driver’s license and they do not. They know where we’re going and I usually do not. It’s a win-win situation.

I also have an excellent driving record. Well, except that one time I got a speeding ticket on my way home from a Defensive Driving class to wipe a speeding ticket off my record. Maybe I did have a tendency to speed back then. But I can assure you I learned my lesson that day. Especially since I got the word directly from God.

After the cop handed me the ticket I thanked him with my best southern manners and was on my way. For the next five miles I banged on the steering wheel and wailed, “Gawd……..Why me, God? Why does this stuff keep happening to me?” Finally I got an answer. It was as clearly as if God was sitting on the seat next to me in the car. But it wasn’t really an audible answer. Even though I could detect that James Earl Jones voice we all assume God uses. No, it was more like a very clear thought (in James Earl Jones’ voice) spoken slowly and clearly with each word accentuated: The answer to my question, “Why do I keep getting speeding tickets?” was: “Because… I want you…to slow…down.”

I wasn’t frightened or intimidated. The voice spoke to me with great love and tenderness. I felt very cherished. God had sent me my very own (and expensive) policeman to stop me. I got the distinct impression that God intended to keep sending policemen to me until I got the message. I haven’t been stopped for speeding since. I won’t say I haven’t exceeded the limit since, you know-- one or two mph here and there-- but I really have changed my habits drastically. You really sorta have to do that when God makes it that clear. And I had to admit that it was the first time in my life it had ever occurred to me that if I wanted to avoid speeding tickets all I had to do was observe the speed limit. 

Who knew driving a car was such a spiritual experience?

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