Tag Archives: Driving

Oblivious

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10, WEB) 

I can be oblivious at times. As Beth will attest, it’s usually when I’ve got my thoughts deeply imbedded in a particularly difficult conundrum trying to unravel the pieces of a complex problem to create an elegant and simple solution. At other times I’m just tired from resolving the aforementioned puzzle and my brain goes into the oft ridiculed “nothing” box which every male keeps handy for escape and relaxation. But, there are many areas of life where I endeavor to be very observant. Sometimes for safety reasons and other times to insure I’m behaving appropriately for the sake of those around me.

When I was growing up my parents instilled in me certain cultural expectations and behaviors for the sake of politeness and common sense. One of those areas was driving habits. Always look out for the other driver. Don’t do anything which can distract you from the road. Always pay attention to your surroundings just in case you need an unexpected detour to escape an accident or obstruction.

Driving back from the beach one day Beth and I were enjoying some music as we cruised down the highway. Traffic was minimal but there were a few other autos peppered along he highway. We slowly passed some and others passed us. Then a big car went flying past us in the left lane. Being passed was not unusual for us. However, when I looked over at the driver he was reading. He wasn’t glancing at highway signs but held a book in his hand, in front of the steering wheel, and was reading and turning pages as he evidently exceeded the speed limit in a casual fashion.

Aghast at the apparent lack of concern for other vehicles or his personal safety it reminded me of other “modern” annoyances. I’ll admit I’ve done some stupid things and been oblivious to others around me. Still, I try to be courteous and not endanger my fellow human beings. I’m not old fashioned when it comes to technology and courtesy.

How many times have you stood in line when someone answered their cell phone? There’s normally nothing wrong with that. We carry cell phones to be available everywhere (another topic I’ll leave for another post). However, if you have to shout into the phone so loud that others stare at you then something is amiss. If your phone is that poor get a new phone. I’m convinced the person you’re talking to can hear your booming voice without the aid of the telecommunications network. Really people. Show some consideration and concern for those around you.

Back on the driving kick and cell phones, driving, and traffic lights. Is your life so hectic and important that you must text or call someone every time your car comes to a stop. And, what makes you think that suddenly driving below the speed limit on a busy road makes it safe to text or call someone? Where did common sense go?

It just seems to me people have become so self absorbed that there’s a perpetual lack of attention to anyone and anything around them. You’re so important that holding hands and spanning an entire walkway in a busy mall is OK even if other shoppers are piling up behind your show of family unity. Who cares if the waiter can’t hear your order because the person a couple tables away is shouting in their phone?

People are taking a back seat to what “I” want or the prevalent persistent attention seeking electronic devices so ubiquitously beeping and clanging not to be ignored. We’ve become too worried that we might miss something happening and thus be a social outcast because we failed to read, laugh at, and comment on some bane, self indulgent post on social media. We cannot travel 60 seconds without a conversation which is best left to our full attention.

I’m reminded of the Psalmist’s admonition to pay attention. Be still, and know that I am God the Lord proclaims. We can’t be in tune with our savior and creator if we are always focusing on the creation and the things we’ve created. When flushed with a need to tweet, text, post or otherwise interact via an impersonal piece of electronics; perhaps it’s time to pause, quiet our thoughts, still our heart, and realize God is the one in control. When we lift our eyes to focus on the God of the universe it keep us from becoming oblivious to those around us, the very ones He created just as he created us. He’ll keep our vision focused and not oblivious.

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Driving

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5 NET.)

I’ve always liked cars. I should say I’ve almost always enjoyed riding in cars. I say almost because some drivers qualify as design artists for the house of horrors. I’ve left my fingernails in the dashboard of more than one perspective demolition derby hopeful car. Hair raising experiences aside, I enjoy a nice road trip. It doesn’t really matter where I’m going. If I’m the driver it’s even better.

It should be noted I’m not a car fanatic. I can’t distinguish one make, model, or year from another unless I surreptitiously sneak a peak at the emblem on the fender. I don’t drool over sleek sports models or dream of a car more expensive than a thirty room mansion. I’m just as happy to drive an old “bug” as a modern Lamborghini. I once saw a Lamborghini parked on the street as I walked to the office. Nice, smooth design and I’m sure it costs more to start than I make in a month. I’ve learned to use the right phrases and even point out a cool car driving by so I don’t appear too dorky. But, my real love is driving.

It probably began with Sunday afternoon drives through the countryside. This was just when Interstate highways were starting. Most Sunday afternoons we, my brothers and I, would fight for window seats in the back of our big Chevy. Window seats are important since there’s no air-conditioning. The roar of the wind and cool hurricane force gale through our hair made for some interesting struggles as we climbed in the car. Since seat belts weren’t required or in vogue the seating sequence would change from time to time throughout the trip.

Dad would point the car out of town on some long forgotten highway and he’d drive. He enjoyed it. Where were we going? Nobody knew, not even Dad. When we arrived at our destination we’d turn around and drive home. Highway markers were only useful if we got lost coming home. No need to ask directions, just point your nose home and let it lead.

We’d enjoy the scenery scrolling by on a lazy Sunday afternoon drive. No better experience than feeling the smooth roll of the wheels and swaying of the car on corners. If we spotted a dip in the road we’d chime up for Dad to go faster and provide a short lived, by exciting, weightless moment in history. It was great!

When I left home for college and then married my sweetheart I continued to find Sunday afternoons and other opportunities to just cruise the highways and byways. Then we answered God’s call to missionary work and moved to Guam. We’d pile our children into the car and enjoy the swing and sway of the island’s roads. Thirty minutes later we found ourselves back at our door. The island wasn’t that big and didn’t have that many roads.

02bath63Later we moved to Europe. Wide open highways, and autobahns provided a chance to drive for more than thirty minutes and not end up at home. It’s like Heaven on asphalt. We’ve driven across the continent several times. One day our family was on the highway in Germany when the boys asked how fast the car would go. I decided to find out. On a straight stretch, flat, sunny, dry day I shouted, “Here we go boys!” I floored the accelerator and waited. We hit the 192 kph mark! (120 mph) The first and last time I floored it to the max. The boys were thrilled. After my nerves calmed down we resumed our 100 mph journey.

It may be obvious that speed is not what enthralls me about driving. Its the event. The control as I conquer the corners and hills to see another beautiful vista prepared by God’s meticulous hand. With rare exception I’m always ready to take the wheel when it’s offered. Apparently my driving isn’t too bad either. Most of my European travel is confined to the continent. Thus, I drive a lot. On most trips I’m asked to drive by my colleagues on a regular basis. I’d like to think it’s because they trust me and feel safe in my hands. As I get older I’m not as sure as they are but I still love to drive.

One thing I don’t appreciate is a backseat driver. I prefer to make my own mistakes without nervous prompting over my shoulder. Once on a trip, a couple people were both telling me to go this way and that. Finally, in desperation and confusion I pulled the car into a side street and stopped. Since I needed some direction in this new town I said, “One of you can talk. The other one be quiet!” Things settled down and we arrived at our destination with fewer side trips.

I think my children have caught sight of my driving infatuation. At least they’ve joined my colleagues when it comes to a designated driver. My lovely bride and I were recently in the USA visiting our children. Fortunately for us most of them live in the same small town. Our fourth is in the Army but took a couple weeks off to see their “missionary” parents while in the country. It was a great family reunion complete with food, fun, playing with our grandson, car troubles, normal family stuff and housing changes.

It’s the housing changes that tugged at my driving enthusiasm. My youngest son needed to move from out in the country to a more citified location. His assumption was Dad knew how to drive anything including a moving truck. I became the designated truck driver. I do have experience moving across the USA in the capable cab of a U-haul truck. Then again, that was thirty years ago. Not wanting to squelch my son’s trust in my abilities I agreed and we picked up the truck.

Honestly, it was great! It took a few moments, a little careful evaluation of the size and protrusions on the truck to figure things out. I backed into country driveways, navigated city streets and came out with any new scratches. Forty foot moving trucks are interesting beasts to drive on narrow country roads but it was fun! When we returned the truck I was relaxed and my driving itch had been scratched another day with a new experience.

The problem with itches is that they often come back unexpectedly and demand to be scratched. Five days later our daughter and her husband moved about four blocks to a bigger apartment. Dad was still in town so my skills were once again called to the front. Interestingly when we picked up the forty foot rental it was the same truck I used early that week for our son. In and out, up and down, back and forth we went until their worldly goods were transplanted from a college oriented apartment complex to a more family slanted venue. Ah, it’s great to scratch an itch now and again.

I’m glad my family and my co-workers trust my driving skills. Thanks to that trust I have more chances to get behind the wheel and spool off more mileage of satisfying driving. My wondrous bride and I more than once headed out on Sunday afternoons for a drive through the winding roads of the Alpine foothills near our home. We didn’t know where we were going but always enjoyed the destination when it was reached.

We no longer have a car. They’re just a bit too expensive to maintain where we live. Thankfully the area has great public transport. For the most part I have to put my trust in someone else to get me from place to place. My driving is limited to furlough or mission related trips. I still enjoy each adventure and others still trust me to drive. It’s nice to be trusted. For something so easily lost it’s also easy to maintain. Someone who breaks our trust often must work hard to regain it.

I’m glad God hasn’t lost my trust. I know it’ll never happen. He told me to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5 NET.) When others trust my driving, without backseat interjections, things go well. When I trust God in everything, without my sanctified backseat prompting, things go well. I can look out the window, enjoy the scenery slipping by and know I’ll reach His destination, wherever that may be, and love it when I get there.

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Appointed

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 WEB)

It all began with an airport. At least for me it began in an airport. I was sitting, minding my own business, glancing up from my book to watch the strange passengers wander to and fro, when I felt the Lord trying to tell me something. No audible voice, no graffiti on the airport walls to make things clear. Just some time reading and my heart starting to talk about mission work. Granted, the previous couple of years at bible college probably laid some groundwork in my thinking. I shared my feelings with Beth, my wife, and she received the same inclination while I was away. Things seemed to fit together. But, where, when, and how were the questions yet to be answered.

An application here, an application there, and then we waited. We heard from a couple missions who talked about raising support. That didn’t appeal to us so we said our polite, “Thank you. But, no thank you.” Then there was silence. A year of silence until our son was born to break up the quiet of our home. Like a birthday present we received a call from the mission asking us to come and be interviewed.

After months of waiting our application for missionary service finally bubbled its way to the top of the perspective missionary stack. The initial information was sufficient to garner their interest in our family. We were asked to come to their home office, in New Jersey of all places, for a personnel interview.

As a young couple just finishing school, we couldn’t afford such a trip. We could barely afford to pay rent and then eat. We often observed there was too much month at the end of the paycheck. We knew God called us to consider missions and He was opening a crack in the door. But, God also knew we were poor as church mice. A newborn baby, Joel, and a two year old, Ellice, stretched our finances to the limit. How could we make the trip.

The Lord provided someone, although I cannot remember who, to pay for our plane tickets to New York City and back. With Joel in a basket and Ellice holding my hand we climbed aboard our first air flight as a family. Beth’s brother and his family offered us a room in their home while her Aunt provided a car. Cold, unsure what was ahead, and ready to see what God had in mind, we looked forward to our first face to face meeting with a mission board.

The next morning we arose, looked at a map, and began our journey. Our first stop was a local church. Although Joel would accompany us to the meetings, Ellice was scheduled to enjoy the day at the church daycare center. That was another provision from the Lord. We couldn’t afford to pay for daycare. The Lord placed the need on the pastor’s heart and the costs were covered. Locating the mission offices was next on our list.

I discovered, quickly, I didn’t like the roads in New Jersey. I’m sure there is someone, somewhere, who understands the flow and pattern of the highways and side streets but it  escaped me as we wandered from place to place. Did you know, you can’t turn left in New Jersey? At least that was my impression. I’d get a bead on our destination and be thwarted by the ubiquitous no left turn signs. This gave new meaning to the phrase turned around.

Eventually, we located the office on Main Street and entered the hallowed halls we read about in the history of the mission. We are greeted by a friendly Mr. L and met other potential candidates awaiting the barrage of questions and meetings scheduled during the evaluation. Armed with the meager information gleaned in reading the history of the mission we thought we were ready for the challenge.

Most meetings were straightforward and direct. Even the psychiatrist was quick and felt we just might fit in with the missionary mindset. (It goes to prove you really can fool some of the people some of the time!) The most grueling and nerve wracking interview was with the board.

We were ushered into a long conference room and instructed to sit at one end of the long conference table while five board members occupied the other end with the President of the mission in the center. I asked to move closer and was promptly told to remain where I was seated. The questions followed.

We were not sure how to answer, or, what they wanted to hear. It’s a strange human habit to turn over in our minds and try to discover hidden meaning behind a question instead of just answering the clear question.. We knew God brought us to this point. We were taken off guard as questions centered around many cultural issues and none surfaced in relation to my work as a broadcast engineer. Beth and I provided answers which were honest and direct. Our response to some questions was, “We don’t know.” We finished, exited the room, and waited. We were not sure how things would turn out. We sat in the front room as deliberations were held behind closed doors.

Chatting with other candidates helped to pass the time but didn’t assuage our concerns. One candidate couple departed after meeting the psychiatrist. Another couple departed promptly after their board interview and another was instructed to undertake some biblical studies and then return at a later date. Whew, I’d been to bible college. In the end we were the only couple left in the room.

Members of the mission passed through the room making a particular fuss over baby Joel. It was quiet and tense as we waited.

Finally, we were asked back into the board room. We were accepted as missionaries. Praise the Lord! We weren’t sure what God had in mind when we left Lexington the day before. Now we were sure. This was a definite answer to His plans for our life.

With relief we left the conference room and relaxed on the couch in the foyer. We were IN! Into what was still a question. Neither of us were familiar with all the details of becoming faith missionaries. This we would learn in the years to come. Right then we were in the door. God called, we listened and we were accepted. Whew!

Little did we know, at that happy juncture in our lives, what God was going to do in and through us in the years ahead. With excitement in our hearts and on our lips we returned to share the good news with family, friends and our home church.

It’s like that between us and God. He leads, He guides, but He doesn’t reveal the answers until we persevere to the end. Maybe you’re in the midst of a change. It becomes clear at the end. At least we can count on that.

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