Before I finally pulled out of the driveway, it was 8:45 a.m. My friend Paul and I had agreed to meet in Salida, Colorado at 11:30 for lunch. It was a trip of about 150 miles for me and a little longer for Paul who had to come from Denver. I had one 10,500 foot high mountain pass to cross. The rest of the way would be easy driving. I would almost make it on time if I kept my speed at 60 mph. This was not the first time I had not allowed sufficient time for a trip. It was a pattern.
On the way up Wolf Creek Pass I noticed that a big semi had gone over the edge of the road and was hung up amongst tall trees in the canyon below. Apparently its brakes had failed or the driver had neglected to downshift to a lower gear before he began descending from the summit. The semi had spilled over the edge of the road just a short distance before a run-away truck ramp offered a way of escape. Large skid marks were evidence of the driver’s frantic effort to control his vehicle. It was a sobering sight that one can see far too often as they cross Wolf Creek Pass. It should inspire everyone to drive with caution.
Rescue workers and the Colorado Highway Patrol were already on the scene. I was wondering if the driver had survived but doubted that he had much of a chance. What terror, what panic he must have experience before he went over the edge! But by the time I had come to the bottom of the pass on the other side, the picture of the accident and the caution flags in my spirit were already fading from my mind.
Some twenty-five miles down the road I was forced to slow to 10 mph or maybe even less. A sweeper truck was sweeping fine gravel from my side of the road. A dump truck was following the sweeper at a short distance. The sweeper created a cloud of dust that obstructed the view of all oncoming traffic. It was impossible to pass safely. I became anxious and knew that I would arrive even later than I had calculated.
“If I could only make it around those two vehicles,” I thought. I looked for the wind to shift and blow the dust in another direction. When there came a momentary improvement in visibility, I felt I could at least pass the dump truck and did. No sooner had I slipped back into my lane, a big tour bus came flying by out of nowhere traveling at least 55 mph or even faster. Its wheels picked up a small rock which hit my windshield. I was startled as I realized how narrowly I escaped death and could have made a widow out of my wife and orphans out of my children, not to mention what might have happened to the passengers on the bus. A wave of gratitude swept over me as I pondered my brush with death and eternity. I followed the sweeper for a while and eventually was able to pass safely.
But then I saw a highway marker, “Salida - 68 miles.” I looked at my watch. It was 10:45. I had 45 minutes to cover that distance. I knew I could not make it. “But maybe I can come close to it,” I thought. I set my cruise control to 62 mph. The legal speed limit was 55. A few cars passed me, but not too many. I put a tape into my cassette player, “Deliverance is Now” by Ken Veltz, an appropriate subject for a man who was “driven” but did not know it.
I was within a few miles of my destination when the red flashing lights of a highway patrol car signaled me to stop. I pulled over. “My radar clocked you at 66 mph,” the officer said. “This is a 55 mph zone.” I had taken the car off of cruise control and easily could have exceeded my setting of 62 mph. I acted surprised but did not argue with the officer. He asked for my driver’s license, then my proof of insurance and vehicle registration. Then he pointed to a teddy bear attached to the windshield with suction cups. “That bear obstructs you visibility and violates Colorado law,” he said. I was shaking, maybe not externally, but certainly on the inside. A wonderful visit with my friend Paul was about to be ruined. “This ticket will cost you $66.00 and put four points against your driving record,” he said. Then he hesitated, “But I don’t want to ruin your day and will only give you a warning this time. Drive carefully and obey the law.” I drove away grateful and trembling. But had I really learned my lesson: My wife has said so often, “Peter, the only signs you read are the ones you make yourself.”
When I arrived at our favorite place to meet and eat, Paul was not there yet. I was relieved that I had a few moments to compose myself. When he arrived, he quickly confessed that he too had driven faster than he should have.
A long discussion followed between us. Why do we endanger our lives and the lives of others so often by driving recklessly, taking foolish risks and breaking the law established for our safety? It does not make sense to jeopardize our lives for the sake of a few minutes. Why don’t we schedule our time better and leave a little earlier? Why is “being on time” so often a matter of life and death? I know that Paul would not have loved me any less nor I him should either one of us be late. What drives us? Is it ego, perfectionism, the fear of not being loved or maybe all three? Are there such things as demon spirits sent from the pit of hell to kill or cripple us? What makes us throw caution to the wind?
Paul and I talked for a long time as we tried to uncover the root causes of our behavior. We confessed to God and to one another the different areas where we had violated both God’s law and man’s law. We saw our behavior as totally selfish. We not only had endangered our own lives, but we had also endangered the lives of many around us. How many are the servants and caretakers of invalids today because caution had been thrown to the wind for just a moment? We prayed as earnestly as we knew how and asked God to forgive us. He did; but it was much harder to forgive ourselves.
That night my sleep was greatly troubled. I saw other areas in my life where I was “driven”. I saw how I had abused my health and had neglected my family. I saw that “driveness” was a pattern with many and a way of life that this world applauds. Then I saw how selfish and ruthless such a way of life really is; and I wanted to put it aside forever. But it was not all that easy. It seemed as if the talons of an evil spirit had dug its claws deep into my soul and did not want to let me go. Then with all my heart and soul I cried out unto the LORD for deliverance; and as I did, my whole being began to relax. I knew He had heard my cry and that He had come and set me free. And then, finally, I found the sleep that had eluded me for many hours.
The next morning I awoke, greatly fatigued, as if I had been in a great battle. I was tired, but I also sensed a calmness and a freedom that were new to me. The “driveness” was gone. I was filled with gratitude to be alive and free and resolved to remain free at all cost. I picture the highway patrolman in my mind’s eye and could see him now as the restraining hand of a loving God and a loving Father.
The other day I was wondering what to do with my little teddy bear so lovingly given to us by our friend Elaine. For a fleeting moment I considered placing him back on the window of our car; but Praise the Lord, I did not yield to the temptation. To obey the law is the only safe and sane way to live.
A number of years ago, Rebekah and I were invited to speak to a group of people in Aspen, Colorado and teach a class about making sandblasted signs. These trips were usually a lot of fun and also allowed us to meet many new people. It was a trip of maybe 250 miles from where we live. We had been traveling about two hours when I remarked to Rebekah, “Won’t it be fun when we get there?” She popped out with the reply, “What’s wrong with right now?” There was and is nothing wrong with right now “Driven” people don’t know how to enjoy or appreciate the moment. They are never quite satisfied with who they are, where they are, or what they have.
Another story that comes to mind concerns a very unusual visitor. We had barely greeted him at the front door when he flashed his credentials in our face. “Did you know that I am the first person in the world who has broken the sound barrier in a land vehicle?” he said. We quickly sensed that a part of this man was still trapped in the speeding vehicle. There was a momentum to his personality that charged the atmosphere with unrest.
A conversation with this man was impossible except at his level of “driveness.” We invited him to sit down, but he declined. He selected a few items we had crafted, asked for a few changes to be made, and said he would be back in two days to pick the items up. Our hearts went out to him. He was like a tidal wave and a speeding bullet. If you did not get out of his way, you would surely get run over or get shot. He was like a giant bulldozer; but he did not have any idea he had that kind of an affect on his surroundings.
I resolved that when he came back to put him into a chair, lay hands on this “whirlwind” and speak peace to his soul. But my well-intentioned plans quickly evaporated when he came back and walked through the door. Only God can lasso a whirlwind. And He did in a most unusual way.
The thought came to me to ask our visitor if he wanted to see the new electric hand planer I was recently given. He agreed and let me demonstrate how it works on a beautiful slab of red aromatic cedar. Then I said, ”Would you like to smooth the surface some more with my belt sander?” He accepted the offer, but his inexperienced approach quickly broke the first belt. Nevertheless we kept going. “How would you like to take this piece of cedar home with you and make something beautiful for yourself?” I said. He liked the piece of wood into which he had invested a part of himself by now and accepted the gift. Then I suggested that the best finish can be obtained with a finishing sander and placed one into his hands. Without objecting, he continued sanding using several grades of sandpaper before he was done.
As he continued to run the sander slowly back and forth across the wood, I sensed that he was beginning to calm down. I sensed the sweet presence of the Holy Spirit ministering to him and also to myself. When he turned off the sander I asked, “Do you know what you might like to put on this piece of cedar?” There was not hesitation. “BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD,” was his reply.
It is far easier to see “driveness” in others than to see it in ourselves. It is only after we can see it in ourselves that help is close at hand. Since almost everyone is going too fast in some area of life, it usually takes dramatic and often catastrophic events to call our attention to our own “driveness.” In our society “fast” is considered normal and “faster” is considered exhilarating and is even applauded. But when we reach for a pill instead of a prayer each night to stop our motor from racing, and then require another pill in the morning to jump-start our engine to get us going, it’s time to take inventory. When fast foods are the norm and dinner at the dining room table at home is the exception, something is very wrong.
who was “driven”
I like to compare “driveness” to a herd of unbridled and untamed horses stampeding down Main Street. To stop them we can either shoot them, cripple them, corral them, or catch them and bridle and tame them. But it is only those horses we bridle and tame that become as useful servants in our life. Our cemeteries, our hospitals, our prisons are filled to overflowing with the first three categories.
I have only one desire now and that is to warn others in the most gentle, yet compelling and urgent way that it is a matter of life and death that we exercise restraint, that we police our emotions, that we do not tamper with the “cruise control” which God has placed into our spirit through His Word. I am reminded of these words form the Book of Proverbs, “He that has no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down and has no walls.” That’s not a pretty picture; but it is quite an accurate description of too many lives. But walls can be repaired and rebuilt. And it is our heavenly Father’s great joy to help us rebuild them when we call upon His Name, the Name of Jesus, for help.
I was handed a warning by the highway patrolman. He did not want to ruin my day! Isn’t that just like our heavenly Father? He would much rather warn us than teach us through an expensive ticket or crippling accident. Let’s voluntarily slow down, bridle our passions and be grateful for the gift of each new day.
God really loves you and so do I.
Serving Jesus as Stretcher Bearer, Peter D. Laue