JESUS, TAKE THE WHEEL. Being back in Atlanta traffic after an absence is a culture shock for me. In 48 hours I have received a hellfire-and-brimstone, full-immersion baptism of cars slamming on brakes, tires screeching, angry commuters, speedy lead-foots, impatient workers running late…it is a ‘fully-woke’ nightmare. Then add road construction to the mix, and you will change your mind about going anywhere and decide to just sit in your back yard and stare at the trees.
Culture responds to traffic, which controls the daily flow of life. In just two days, I have experienced people altering their lives to accommodate it. One hurries through a task because she needs to “beat the traffic”. Another can’t come until rush hour is over. Plans are made around which roads will be congested, stop-and-go, or overcrowded at certain hours. And by all means, avoid the parking lot known as 400 North unless you happen to be traveling at 3AM. Then it’s only a slow crawl.
The reason that traffic is so egregious is because people become egregious once they get behind the wheel. Everyone feels entitled to be first in line. People push to be first in the lane as you merge onto the highway. Cars zip and zoom around others so they can pass and get in front. Every day you can watch drivers switching lanes without warning like it’s the Indy 500.
Think of it! If everyone would just be content to stay in their lane, wait their turn, and God forbid, even let someone else go first, traffic would be tolerable and accidents would be greatly reduced. But instead, we cut one another off and risk causing an accident just to get one car-length ahead.
James 4 The Message (MSG)
4 1-2 Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it.
2-3 You wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not? Because you know you’d be asking for what you have no right to. You’re spoiled children, each wanting your own way.
4-6 You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that “he’s a fiercely jealous lover.” And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find.
It’s common knowledge that “God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.”
Humility is the act of letting others go first. Humility is the practice of putting someone else’s need ahead of your own. The willing humble wave people in, slow down, look out for others, and give way. Humility is not thinking more highly of yourself than you ought.
Where are you pushing when you should be stepping back? Who needs to be waved into your lane while you slow down and allow it? Where are you acting like a spoiled child, wanting first place at the expense of the other travelers in your life? Are you driving your life like the willful proud, determined to get your own way at any cost, or the willing humble, reflecting the image of Christ in what you say and do?
God gives grace to the willing humble. So slow down. Be gracious. Let somebody in. Show generosity. And please don’t cut someone off today…especially if you have an ichthus on your car.
Colington Harbor traffic jam at Sailing School.
Our dependence on automobiles is also at play here. As a society, we build the tower; as individuals, we jump off it.