I just received a blog from Pastor Jim Abernathy. Let me just say that it got my attention and I was able to focus on it all the way through to the end. RMF
As I came to a stop at a red light this morning, I happened to look in my rear view mirror to see a white van slamming on his brakes and swerving to the right to avoid rear-ending me. Suddenly a second black van appeared from behind him, swerving to the left. When they both came to a stop, one was on my right and the other on my left, three vehicles across, sharing a lane meant for one. Neither driver was paying close attention it seemed until the very last moment. I had not stopped suddenly nor had these drivers been following me too closely. I was in my lane, properly stopped, but could have done nothing to prevent the accident if they had not swerved around me at the last minute.
It reminded me of another such incident several years ago that didn’t turn out so well. I was sitting, again at a red light, when I looked into the rear view mirror to see a white van heading straight for me, going much too fast. The driver later said he was trying to get out of the way of an ambulance and didn’t see me until it was too late. I spent the rest of the afternoon in the emergency room having a rather long gash in my head stapled closed. The Methodist minister, driving the church van that hit me, was very apologetic as he prayed with me in the ER. (I have been wary of Methodist’s in white vans ever since!)
In both cases, there was nothing I could have done to avoid the situation. In both cases, I had done the right thing, observing the changing light and stopping appropriately. In both cases, the drivers were distracted by something that made them lose sight of a stopped car. One solution perhaps for this driving danger might be to stop looking in the rear view mirror, or perhaps I could just keep an eye out for white vans and pull over to avoid them. Neither solution is a good one, however, because neither is the root of the problem. Distracted driving is a real problem, but more so, distracted living. Our inability to focus our attention these days is a significant challenge to meaningful, purposeful living. We seem to be caught up in so many things and we struggle to truly focus on anything well. We find ourselves trying to process too much information and the overload places us at times in dangerous circumstances.
I understand the lure of all these distractions. I have embraced many of them myself. Not looking in the rear view mirror won’t make rear-end collisions, or near collisions stop. Perhaps if more of us limited the distractions while driving, walking, listening in personal conversation or in personal and corporate worship, we would be able to focus on that which needs our attention most in the moment.
A dad sat down in front of me at a Nats game recently with his two year-old son. It was their first trip together to the ball park. The little boy was focused on his cheddar goldfish for awhile as well as his juice cup. But when he finished those, he began to wander. Problem was that his dad had become distracted by his cell phone and was texting someone. The little boy made it to the end of the row before his dad realized he was gone. The dad’s distraction created further distraction for those of us watching this scene unfold and none of us was focusing on what we had come to the ballpark to do, watch the baseball game.
As a follower of Christ, I am called to seek first the kingdom…everything else, then, finds its place. I don’t always follow that formula, but in an often distracted world, that might be a good place to start.
Oh yes, one final thought, keep an eye out for those white vans in your rear view mirror…particularly the one’s driven by ministers! Stay focused.