Stoplight

So I was heading home from McDonald’s the other night. It was late. Sometimes my wife gets a craving for a Reese’s McFlurry at like 11pm. And because I’m such a great husband, I’ll go pick one up for her. And by “because I’m such a great husband” I mean “because I really want one too”. Reese’s McFlurries are delicious.

As a general rule, I like driving at night. In the city I live in, everyone apparently goes to sleep at 9:30. After this time, there’s literally no one on the road. The streets are as empty as the halls in a nursing home after lights out. And it’s not like I live in Boca Raton, or a place with lots of old people. Perhaps my fellow Lexingtonians simply value their sleep. You know what I value? Reese’s McFlurries.

As I pulled out of the McDonald’s parking lot and onto the main road, a subtle grin may have appeared on my face. I was the only car around. I could do anything I wanted, really. I could drive fast or incredibly slow, I could switch lanes multiple times, even drive with my car door open if the right song came on the radio. As I sped down the route to my house, I felt free – just me, the open road and unlimited green lights.

But there’s always that one car.

As I approached a neighborhood intersection, I noticed the familiar glow of headlights outside my passenger window. Someone in my city wasn’t asleep; which was surprising, especially considering they were driving a Buick. As they came to a stop at the same intersection I was approaching, my light turned yellow. After a few seconds, it was red. I slammed on my brakes, carefully shielding the Reese’s McFlurries with my forearm. This is the only tricky part to driving late at night, the stoplights are very gracious to other cars. Even if only one car approaches, the light will usually change for them.

The subtle grin that once filled my face was now replaced with a not-so-subtle scowl. I was frustrated. This Buick had ruined the entire experience for me. As he drove past the hood of my car, I immediately began to judge the driver. I assumed he probably had a criminal record and was out doing things that you shouldn’t do in a Buick. I was on the verge of hating him. He’s really got some nerve, I thought, to sit at that light and make my light turn red. “He should be asleep”, I may have said out loud. My Reese’s McFlurry was now melting.

A couple of days later, I found myself sitting in church. By this time I had forgotten about the man in the Buick and the criminal activities he was probably out participating in. The preacher was talking about Jesus. At one point he said something that struck me. He said that if I was the only person on the planet, Jesus would have still died for me. He then went on to say that my goal in life should be to become like Jesus.

Immediately I remembered the man in the Buick. So let me get this straight – If I was the only person on earth, Jesus would have still died for me? And I feel legitimate hatred when my stoplight turns red for one man in a Buick? And my goal is to be like Jesus? It seemed that mine and Jesus’ priorities were pretty far apart at this point. I felt guilty.

Maybe you’ve grown up in church like I have. Perhaps you’ve heard all your life that we’re supposed to become like Jesus. And maybe like me, most of the time this feels impossible, especially when gracious stoplights are kind to other drivers at 11pm. It’s easy to feel things like shame and guilt when we realize how horrible we are. So how do we reconcile these feelings?

I think the answer is found in Micah 6:8, “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” The truth is, Jesus didn’t come to make us feel guilty about how terrible we are at trying to be like Him, He came to give us the chance to walk with God – every day. And I’ve found that there’s no shame or guilt when living in that truth. All He wants is for us to show up and walk humbly with Him every day, no matter how far away we are.

 

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Categories: I Digress

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