Bass Mitchell: If you can be a Christian in your car…
I was on Interstate 81 recently and had to go through Staunton. Everything was going fine until I stopped at the first stoplight. Something on the seat had fallen to the floor and I reached down to pick it up. While I did, the light turned green. A car horn blasted behind me. I glanced in the rear-view mirror and saw an angry face in the car behind me. I started through the intersection, only to have this guy whip out and zoom past, shouting at me and making some, how shall I say, creative hand gestures. All this because I spent two seconds too long at a green light!
After that, every stoplight in Staunton caught me. I began to believe it was a plot, that someone somewhere changed them just as I approached.
When I was finally a couple of miles outside the city, I rounded a corner and there was the largest skunk I have ever seen. It was trying to cross the road. It didn’t make it. I didn’t think I was going to make it either. Apparently, I must be allergic to it because I started sneezing. And when I start sneezing, it lasts awhile. Ever sneeze while you’re driving? Do you know how difficult it is to keep your eyes open when you sneeze? So, there I was with one hand on the steering wheel, one pinching my nose, and my head out the window.
Soon after the skunk incident, a car pulled out ahead of me. I had to put on brakes to keep from running into it. It sped along at the incredible rate of 35 mph! There was no place I could pass. Finally, this snail crawled off the road. And no sooner had he, then another one pulled right back in front of me! It was a plot, I tell you! A conspiracy!
No sooner had the last slow poke pulled off than I looked in my rear-view mirror and saw the blazing headlights of an 18-wheeler barreling toward me. There was no place for him to pass or area for me to pull over. He just got closer and closer, his headlights burning my eyes. I finally found a place to pull over, sliding on the gravel as I did, and he roared past. I was tempted to pass along that rude gesture the man in Staunton taught me but thought better of it. (I could see the headlines the next day: “Reverend Waylaid by Crazed Truck Driver”). I looked both ways. Nothing coming, so I pulled back onto the road. Thirty seconds later another truck was on my bumper! It was a plot! I could almost hear the truckers on their CBs, “Breaker one nine. The Reverend just pulled over. Passed him. I see him pulling back onto the road. You can come on up now. Your turn. Ten four.” Before I got home that night, I had to pull over four times!
A lifetime of driving experience came together that day for me in this profound insight: If you can be a Christian in your car, you can be a Christian anywhere! For I don’t know about you, but every time I get in the car my Christianity is tested. Sometimes I pass and sometimes I fail.
That day, when I finally got home, I was angry. I wanted to go back and find that guy in Staunton who started this whole nightmare and throw that dead skunk into his car. I was ready to strip my gears.
The degree of this road rage surprised and frightened me. So I decided to do a little Bible study on anger. I was surprised at how many of the wise sayings in Proverbs have to do with anger.
“If you cannot control your anger, you are as helpless as a city without walls, open to attack” (25:28).
“Hot tempers cause arguments, but patience brings peace” (15:18).
“If you are sensible, you will control your temper. When someone wrongs you, it is a great virtue to ignore it” (19:11).
“A gentle answer quiets anger, but a harsh one stirs up trouble” (Proverbs 15:1).
And James 1:19 gives the wise advice to be quick to listen and slow to speak, and you’ll be slow to become angry.
Jesus also taught about anger. The Old Testament law declares, he says, that anyone who commits murder will be judged, but “I say to you: whoever is ANGRY with his brother shall be brought to trial!” In other words, have a heart so full of love that there’s never any room for even an angry feeling toward someone else.
Lots of good advice here and I didn’t feel so angry after reading them. But, of course, Jesus nor the wise teachers in Proverbs ever drove a car, did they?
Bass Mitchell is a writer and minister who lives in New Market. He avoids I-81 and skunks whenever possible, but hasn’t found a way yet, short of parking his truck forever, of avoiding irate drivers, of whom he confesses to being one, from time to time.