February 15, 2017 By Pastor Tim Simpson: I hope it’s not a sign of insanity that I talk out loud in the car (sometimes) to other drivers. If it is a sign of mental illness, please refer me to someone with compassion. Anyway….it makes me crazy when other drivers cut through intersections on a 45 degree angle, rather than slowing down and making their turns at a 90 degree angle. I still remember my driver’s education teacher at Mt. Hebron High School in Ellicott City in 1973. He said when you come to an intersection and need to cross traffic, you make crisp, hard turns at 90 degree angles. That keeps traffic flowing more effectively because the “right of way” is being observed and others’ safety is protected.
What’s been driving me crazy recently is that folks cut diagonally across the intersections and miss the front end of my car by inches...okay...maybe a foot or so. Which leads to an outburst from me of, “Come on, man! Everyone knows you have to do a “90” there!”
I suppose this observation of others’ behavior could lead to discussions about: turning lights off, picking up your trash, opening the door for others, and silencing your cell phone in movie theaters. Easy to see the annoying things other people do, right?
So, would you believe, on the way to church last week, running a few minutes late for a meeting, I failed to drive correctly. I cut through an intersection on a 45 degree angle. And at least one other driver communicated their reaction, verbally and non-verbally. Message sent, message received. Guilty.
And then the nudge of the Holy Spirit came, reminding me of the teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. He said, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You, hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5
How would I process all the comments if I actually heard what others were thinking when they saw my sins and weaknesses - my planks? The truth is, neither my driving nor my living are perfect. Not even close.
I need to give and receive God’s grace constantly. I also need to privately give the Lord access to my planks - holding on tight to the promise in Psalm 103:8, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”
Splinters or planks? Gotta run - the Lord wants to have another private conversation!