A Day on the Road

I had a good drive from Florida back to Georgia today. The vast majority of it was just normal traffic. However, there was one incident that stood out.

After filling up the gas tank in Cordelle, I was getting back onto I-75. On the ramp in front of me was a tanker truck. There were two lanes on the ramp, but the right lane was labeled to merge onto the left lane before merging. The tanker, which was accelerating slowly, moved to the right lane. The drivers let me accelerate past him, then he slid back to the left lane to continue up the lamp.

Such a simple gesture of politeness. He obviously knew that he would be slow up the ramp and that he could easily let me by. I was surprised by it, and it dismayed me that I was surprised. Simple politeness in traffic is so rare, and that really is a shame. Like this truck, most of the time politeness wouldn’t even cost us any time or real trouble. It just takes thinking about those around us.

I hope this experience reminds me to think about the other drivers around me, and to think of their needs, rather than just my own.

Lessons in the Storm

We had a storm with very strong winds in our area this past week. As I watched the winds blow the trees around before the rain came, some random thoughts came to mind.

I first noticed the storm coming in, because of the movement of the trees in the backyard. The wind was blowing harder than I had seen it blow in some time. Also, the trees were bending back and forth, which we don’t see very often. I saw that we already had a broken limb that had come out of our maple tree, and was hung up on a limb on a nearby pine tree. That pine tree is about 60 feet tall, and the top 20 feet or so was swaying back and forth about 45 degrees from vertical each way.

The trees fascinated me. That a large pine tree could bend so far and not break amazed me. And yet, the maple tree already had a broken branch. It reminded me that I can bend with the winds of life, or I can break. But, how do I make sure I am bending, and not breaking?

Pine trees like to grow straight. I also have a direction¬†that I like to grow. It may be¬†a particular way of life or standard of living. It may be a church or ministry in which I have invested my time and talents. Whatever it is, I certainly don’t enjoy it when the winds of a storm blow me away from that direction.

If I refuse to bend, like the brittle maple branch, I am in danger of breaking. However, if I give up my pre-conceived notions about my life and bend with the winds, I can survive the storm unbroken. When the storm was over, the pine tree continued to grow straight. Many times after the storms in my life, I have been able to continue growing in the direction that I started.

However, even when I believe I have bent, a storm has permanently changed the direction of my life. I trust that these new directions are where God wants my life to go next. I think part of the bending process is the willingness to stay bent. For me, the hardest part is not knowing whether the bending is temporary or permanent. I struggle to trust God that He knows how much bending that I can handle before I break.

And sometimes I have broken. But thankfully, God is faithful to repair the damage like an expert arborist. Like the maple with the broken branch, I will always bear the scars of the breaks. However, like the maple I will continue to grow and flourish. Unlike the maple, I can learn and change, and become better at bending in the further.