Sunday, March 3, 2013

Rumble Strips

Today while I was driving home on M10, one of a number of local highways for you non-Michiganders, I had to smile thinking of some of my driving experiences when I first moved to Detroit. First of all, I was an inexperienced driver, who learned to drive on the left rather than right. These factors alone are fraught with comedic/terrifying potential. Mix in there the intense nature (some might say survival of the fittest/free for all) of Detroit driving, there were some exciting times! Late one night when I was particularly tired during my first month of teaching, I was so tired I broke traffic laws. I was not supposed to merge onto the highway and get off at the next exit, but I was so tired I said I was just going to do it. There weren't many cars out anyway. So here I was getting ready to merge over several lanes of traffic, when a car with no headlights came zooming down the highway. I freaked and swerved back into my land. Then all I heard was a thundering crunching sound. Then I just knew, that I had scraped the entire side of my car on the cement partition. My literally brand new car I might add, which had been purchased a month before with only 80 miles on it.  I was beside myself with grief that in one reckless act, I had spoiled everything I had been blessed with. So I exited the highway, pulled over in the nearest place possible to check my damage. Not a scratch. It was then and only then that I remembered that in the U.S. there are "Rumble Strips" to keep drivers awake and alert.

This week and month have been really tumultuous and trying for many of my friends. We have seen and experienced gruesome things, sorrow and the loss of loved ones in our presence. For me personally all these occurrences have served as a reminder, that there is always life and death, every single day. In beautiful and tragic ways. So many of these events are wake up calls, rather than the full on disasters that they could be.

When my grandmother died a couple years ago now, I read a scripture at her funeral and afterwards people with an element of surprise in their tone said "You read that with so much conviction." As if it were foolish to believe.

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future,nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:35-39

In the presence of death I am constantly reminded of the beauty of Jesus. Of the beauty of a death of sacrifice, of our savior's death for us, and the many ways we die daily- or should be dying daily, to be more fully alive, holy and set apart. Whether that is to addiction or self-absorption, pride, anger, passive-aggressive habits, this kind of redeeming work that the holy spirit does in us is a beautiful thing.

The physical death of others is also a constant reminder of the ever present choice of life or death. We choose to daily whether to live or die, because a life without God is not living. Separation from God is one of the most painful things that a person can endure, and yet we anesthetize ourselves with creature comforts and pursuits until we are numb to reality.

While we yearn for their company and sense their absence, this is why the physical death of a saved person, someone who not only knows about Jesus but has clung to Him with everything that they have, is so moving. It is a "Rumble Strip" wake up call to prioritize, and to be aware of the reality of the world around us, a call to drop pretenses and prioritize what matters, to be about our Father's business.

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