Pastoral Perspectives

When The Rubber Meets The Road

  The above is an idiom that refers to the moment of truth – how we will measure up when we are being put to the test. An athlete can train all day, but the race is where the rubber meets the road when they’ll know how good they really are. As followers of Jesus, we are commanded to love one another, even our enemies. We hear it in sermons; we discuss about it in our Bible studies; we are motivated to do so when we hear testimonies of how people have been touched by simple gestures of kindness. That is not enough; we need to live it out and a good test for our obedience to this command, the moment of truth whether we take God’s flawless Word seriously, is literally when the rubber of our tires hit the road, i.e. when we are driving.

      I find that not only do I have to exercise a lot of patience towards my fellow drivers I am also no saint when it comes to road etiquette. Let’s consider my fellow drivers first. I get really annoyed when I signal to indicate my intention to filter to another lane only to find that the oncoming car speeds up instead of slows down for me to change lane safely. In the States, drivers are more courteous, at least where I lived for a year. They would deliberately slow down to give way to a car who wants to filter into their lane, not so in Singapore. I am also perturbed when my car has to queue up in order to exit a certain road only to find drivers speeding all the way to the exit and then cutting into the queue. No wonder the queue sometimes doesn’t move. Why can’t people just systematically get into line and wait for their turn to exit. I am also very agitated when a car tailgates me and pressurises me to change lane just to make way for him. If I am road hogging, I can understand, but if I am trying not to exceed the speed limit, why am I made to feel that I am driving too slowly just because other drivers are impatient?

      Often, there is nothing I can do except that sometimes, I am tempted to step on my accelerator so as to pull up alongside the one who has prematurely passed me by and take a good look at him. Other times, I would imagine how nice if my car has a display panel where I can type out a message to give these drivers a piece of my mind. I even entertain the bizarre thought of laying hold of something which I can use to shoot at the tires so as to puncture them, teaching these impatient drivers a lesson – the faster you try the slower you will drive! No, thank God these thoughts remain as fantasies but the question remains, “How can the love of Christ be shown when I continue to entertain these fantasies?”

       I have come to acknowledge that these are circumstances where I can obey the ‘one another’ commands – ‘bear with one another’ (Eph 4.12), ‘forgive one another’ (Col 3.13, especially when what happens is really a case of road bullying), ‘be kind to one another’ (Eph 4.32), and ‘love one another’ (Jn 13.34). I also realise that often I am angry because my pride has been violated. When drivers flash their headlights at me to pressurise me to make way for them or when they speed up to prevent me from changing lanes, my ego is dented and therefore I react. Humility and self-control are two virtues which I really need to work on and being a driver gives me many opportunities to do that.

       Of course I am no angel on the road. Just as other peoples’ self-centeredness has caused me pain and hurt, I have also caused others no less amount of pain and hurt due to my own selfishness! We tend to play up the former while ignoring the latter. Didn’t Jesus say, “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speckout of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Lk 6.42)

       I must learn to first remove the plank out of my own eye! I must confess that I have committed my fair share of road transgressions. I beat traffic lights when I am in a hurry. Sometimes, I will even rationalise to myself that it is acceptable since I have already passed the line before the red light comes on. I am also not very kind to those who want to change lanes. I don’t speed up but I don’t slow down either. There are times I should have given way to pedestrians instead adopting the ‘I first’ mentality. I notice that I am more vulnerable in falling into sin whenever I am rushing for time, running late in reaching my destination. Don’t pack too many things into my schedule helps. Start my journey early also helps. I find that if I stay alert and tell myself beating a traffic light won’t make much difference to how late I will be for my appointment I am more prepared to slow down instead of speed up when I see yellow. It is a journey for me and I am still learning to be more Christ-like every time I embark on a journey.

       For those who do not drive, I don’t know how much you can identify with what I have shared. If you have taken the effort to read up to this point, you would have gotten a glimpse of the temptations that a driver faces. Do remember to say a prayer for the driver whose car you are in. I would envisage that his challenges will not be any different from mine since “no temptation has overtaken us except what is common to mankind” (1 Cor 10.13). Pray that Christian drivers will rise to the call to exhibit the love of Christ when the rubber meets the road!

Pastor Kien Seng

August 14, 2011