Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Plans, Car Wrecks, God, and Character Development

So yesterday, I left super early to get to a conference. I left with plenty of time to spare so I could relax and maybe enjoy a cup of coffee or a meal in Toledo or Detroit (I've never been to either town, so I thought it might make for a refreshing break from my driving. Well God had something different in store. In fact, instead of a relaxing journey, I was stuck in traffic for between two and three hours a few miles north of the Ohio border in Michigan. Before the traffic jam, I was taken on a detour that added an extra 30 minutes to my trip. And then, when I finally made it to my final destination, it appears that I went to the wrong location, and so I spent an extra 30 minutes trying to contact someone to get directions to the location of the conference. My map directions took me to a location about half a mile away from the event, and so I had to call people and back track. I was tired, hungry, and frustrated by the time I arrived, which was actually the perfectly place for me to be. Why was this perfect? Because it served as a reminder to me of what a selfish, impatient, prideful, easily irritated, and wicked person I am when I choose not to keep Christ as the center of my life. I will gravitate toward selfishness everytime.

The reason why I was in a traffic jam was because of acollision resulting in fatality that happened early Monday morning on I-75. No matter how early or late I would have left, I would have been stuck in traffic with thousands of other people. Somebody lost his life in that accident, and that's a reality we seldom consider when we are stuck in traffic. Usually we are centered on the inconvenience it causes us. Yesterday, for some reason I was very aware of the severity of the accident, and my heart definitely goes out to the families of all those who were involved. I mean, what did I really lose in the accident--a little time. And yet, when I think about it, most of us are so selfish that we aren't even concerned about the severity of things going on around us. One man lost his life, but the rest of us only lost a little time, and even that time could be constructive. Maybe we need to learn to slow down and not be in a rush (but that's another thought for another blog).

By the time I had arrived in this traffic jam, cleanup of the accident was well underway. It involved three semis, so it took about 12 hours total. I gave some time to reflect on what might be going on up the road, but for the most part I was in my own little world.

It's funny how quickly things we enjoy can become idols or distractions. I had been listening to my Brett Cain and Keane CDs earlier on the drive, and thoroughly enjoying them for the good music that they were. When I was stuck in traffic, I got bored. I wanted to pull out my cell phone, but I don't have service in Michigan. I wanted to listen to music, but I found that the music wasn't as satisfying as it had been earlier. I wanted to get out of the car, but I was already getting a little light headed from all of the exhaust fumes I was breathing in on the interstate. I even wanted to start memorizing scripture (that's godly--right?), but I couldn't focus on anything. In the middle of all of that attempted distraction, God met me, and confronted me about my character, and my willingness to run to distractions instead of running to the loving arms of Jesus.

Why are we like this? I don't think I am alone in this struggle against distractions. I couldn't help but thank God in the middle of my frustration because His grace is sufficent for me to stand in the middle of trying circumstances. In the middle of this explosion, and this traffic jam, God was willing to bear with me, and work on my character. As much as I wanted to have some relax time, God wanted me to be confronted with my proneness to wander. What do you run to be distracted? What beautiful thing do you allow to become an idol? How do we recognize these things when they come on our radar?

Just a few thoughts from a long and character developing day on the road.

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