Driving to work this morning I managed to make someone very angry. I honestly can’t tell you what I did, though I can guess. I was getting on an interstate using the on-ramp. I was safely following the car in front of me. We weren’t speeding and we weren’t going unbearably slow either. But I think I have already described the problem… we weren’t speeding. I was in… ‘his way’.
A car that wasn’t even in my mirror the last time I looked was swerving back and forth behind me while driving painfully close to my rear bumper. He swerved so widely, I thought he might pass on either side on the shoulder. I looked around a little confused and realized I was already driving as fast as the car in front allowed and couldn’t see anything that I could have done differently.
I looked up in the mirror again and the man behind proceeded to gesture that I was number 1 in his book. A pose that he held for several seconds before trying to swerve again and shake both hands at me. This was raw, pure, rage. As soon as the pavement allowed he zoomed passed, driving over the crosshatch section (meaning no cars should use that space) and very promptly disappeared over the horizon. I was driving about 70 (The speed limit), and as quickly as he moved passed he had to have exceeded triple digits.
I’m tempted in several ways. I was tempted to return some gestures of my own. I was not doing anything conceivably or inherently wrong. Not only was I obeying the law, there was a physical barrier preventing me from doing otherwise. This person’s expectations were completely unreasonable AND he misunderstood a basic principle my 5 year old understands… there are cars in front of other people… and only one car can occupy that space at any given time.
I was tempted to be livid. I wanted to speed up and not let him pass. I wanted to take a picture and call the police. Not only was he dangerous on the road, he was a lunatic! Yet another person that thinks hes better than everyone else, rules don’t apply to him, and he expects me to get out of his way and let him trample all over my life…
Two thoughts slowly entered my mind:
- I have no idea what this person is going through. On the way to the hospital? Just got fired? Wife just left him? Kids in jail? Perhaps, its a combination of multiple things. Maybe life just added up on him? Maybe he doesn’t know God? Can we even imagine what it must be like to live in THIS world… without any hope?
- If his actions have ANY impact on me, I’m not as deeply rooted in Christ as I need to be. (and they did impact me). If anyone has the ability to alter my behavior or my choices or my personality, then I am not what I have been called to be. I am not about the Father’s business if some stranger’s temper tantrum can deter me.
One of God’s characteristics is to be immovable. He is unchanging. He is our Rock. Steadfast. I wanted to be immovable too… and not let that driver be so reckless. I wanted to teach him some patience. I wanted to put him in his place. I wanted to dig in… in this world. I wanted to stand my earthly ground. God is immovable for us. He is constant and unchanging. I need to be that for Him. But I choose to only be that when it benefits my many moods and constantly changing desires.
I did something today that I’ve never done before. I prayed for that guy. When it set in that he could be having the worst day of his life, and I’ll never know what he is feeling in the pit of his soul, I just wanted to pray for him. And this isn’t to brag, I could go on endlessly about the horrible ways I usually react to this type of person (and I’m being kind to even give them people status… they are definitely my hot button).
This isn’t a brag because I realized how desperately I need to do this for everyone. For every jerk, for every greedy person, for every misunderstood individual, for every person having a bad day… for everyone. I need to love them the way I want God to love me. If I need forgiveness… and I need a lot, I need to pray for them to have it too. To find peace in their life. To meet the master. To gain perspective. To have some hope.
If anyone needs prayer, its those that don’t know they have a Father to help with their struggles. They don’t need self professed Christians like myself making their lives worse. They don’t need judgement from other sinners, they don’t need retaliation, they don’t need worldly justice (as much as I have truly desired exactly that!).
What they need is to be treated like children. The ones that were ushered through the disciples, who tried to shew them away, and led safely to the Lord who sees them for who they truly are. We may not always have a ministry opportunity with people filled with hate, depression or despair. But we can choose to not pile on more. We could, maybe, be the first kind person they have met.
Jesus constantly found people in the middle of their mess. Prostitutes, tax collectors, murderers, thieves… and yet they saw compassion and love when they deserved nothing but a taste of their own medicine. Forever longing to be more like Jesus, I think prayer is the first thing we can do when we run across these people. Prayer followed by a firm understanding of where we come from and who we serve.
I want to pray for the jerks… because I can be one of them. And I can be down in my moments of discouragement. And, its not my place to judge them. I don’t have to reinforce their decisions, or appreciate their methods, or condone their behavior… I just have to love them and bring them to the Father as children that need Him. And if I can do this honestly and repeatedly, perhaps I can climb off my pedestal and realize that we are all sinners in search of a King willing to save us.
If we have found that Savior, how much MORE should we love and have compassion for those still searching? Tragedy is when souls seek forgiveness and find judgement from others who have found grace for themselves.