The God Pause

I frequently travel on a two-lane highway that is often used by wannabe racecar drivers and reckless drivers. The racecar drivers zoom around the reckless drivers who are eating footlong hotdogs or brushing their teeth because they just ate a footlong hotdog. While driving among them, a surreal nightmare moment left me awestruck.

The summer day couldn’t have been more beautiful. The cumulus clouds floating across the blue sky couldn’t have been more appealing. The road conditions on the state route couldn’t have been better. This day, like any other day, I’d asked God to bless my family with a ring of angels to protect us from harm.

The stretch of road I use is flat and sometimes curves where I hope no one is illegally passing. The giant oak, maple, and pine trees that line both sides of the state route limit visibility around these curves. Sometimes deer will saunter across the roadway, so I’m always on the lookout for them. When the line is double yellow and there’s no passing, the tailgaters either take advantage of my slipstream or try to hitch a ride in my trunk.

The speed limit is 55 miles per hour. Since state troopers frequently patrol the highway, most local drivers will roll along inconspicuously at sixty mph. This stretch of road has no shoulders, only bordering ditches and an occasional pull off area. It’s not unusual to have to coast around a cruiser with its lights flashing behind a traffic violator whose car is slanting with the pitch of the ditch.

This is the highway that inspires me to pray more. The ditch slopes down from the road and the tree lines bend around the curves.

While driving east on this road, I tuned in to a Christian music station. I checked traffic in front of me and behind me and set the cruise control on my 2010 Lexus to 60 mph. My husband and I recently purchased this vehicle to replace our gold 1999 Toyota Camry (we still own a white 1999 Toyota Camry). I had only driven the Lexus once before.

When I spotted crows on the side of the road feasting on a deer carcass, I inhaled and held my breath until I got past the maggoty stench wake. Then I glanced in my rearview mirror.

This is another stretch of the same highway. Unfortunately, deer are often hit by both unwary and wary drivers.

A Ford Ranger truck now followed behind me at a respectable distance. In my driver side mirror, I noticed a blue bubble-shaped compact car creeping in and out from behind the truck. Apparently, the bubble car driver wanted to pass it, but a line of cars streamed around a distant curve in the westbound lane.

“Don’t do it!” I warned as if the bubble car driver could hear me.

He tucked his compact car back behind the Ranger as several cars in the opposite lane zipped past. Then he again peeked in and out from behind the truck. More vehicles spiraled around the curve, now closer.

The driver of the compact car became impatient and pulled into the opposite lane to pass. The little car had a short shell-shocked body with a Honda logo on its narrow grille-an old Fit hatchback. “Son of a gun!” I shouted, “What an idiot!”

In Romans 12:14 we’re reminded to bless, and not curse, our persecutors. But in the heat of the moment, I didn’t think, oh, the poor guy must be late for brain surgery. Judgmental words just tumbled out of my mouth.

Judging by its wider grille, this 2010 Honda Fit is probably a couple years younger than the Fit I encountered. However, it’s a close match to the rattletrap gone wild on the highway.

The space between my Lexus and the truck tailing me could have easily accommodated two stretch limos, a couple hot tubs, and a house. “Okay, get in there!” I ordered the Fit driver as his compact car overtook the Ranger.

Looking ahead, I saw a black full-sized pickup truck with a huge wall of shiny chrome grille closing in on the fun-sized car with a grille the girth of a smiley sticker. But the Honda Fit driver, a faceless male blotch, didn’t merge into the sprawling gap between the Ranger and my Lexus. To my horror, he accelerated full throttle!

“Oh my gosh, he’s insane!” I shouted, “He’s passing me, too!” I took the Lexus off cruise control and eased off the gas pedal.

The Fit’s engine strained as the driver kept the pedal to the floor and bulldozed forward. The oncoming truck, now recognizable as a Dodge Ram, had advanced within spitting distance of the compact car. Boxed in, I braced myself to be collateral damage in an inevitable crash because of a suicidal maniac with a Napoleon complex.

The driver of the old Honda fit compact car challenged the unsuspecting driver of a late model Dodge Ram pickup truck (like the above truck) to a game of high-speed chicken.

Then I turned my head to the left to glimpse the truck and the car nose to nose-and blinked.

The scene appeared to be in suspended animation. I observed the little blue bubble car next to me and the large black pickup truck on the other side of it. We were three vehicles abreast on a part of the two-lane highway with no shoulder-aligned on a plane as if in another dimension. Time seemed to stop. To pause.

Neither vehicle slowed down. I didn’t see the Ram truck swerve out of its lane. I didn’t hear the squealing of tires or explosion of metal. I didn’t smell burning rubber or spilled fuel. We were just suddenly three vehicles abreast.

And then we weren’t. The man in the pickup truck continued traveling west as if out for a Sunday drive, and the crackbrain in the compact car continued speeding east as if racing in the Daytona 500.

The crackbrain, alive through no fault of his own, tailgated the next eastbound group of cars, peeked around each one, zoomed, tucked, peeked, and passed again and again. As soon as possible, I turned onto a quiet country road to avoid encountering a trail of destruction. I inhaled another deep breath, this time to calm my nerves.

While thumping over patched potholes, I shouted through my open side window to any cow within earshot. “What just happened? How the heck did that truck driver duck around that chicken playing moron? I need an armored battle tank to drive on that highway!”

These were not the cows that heard my rant. These were the cows that listened to my baby babble before walking away.

After using cow therapy to destress, I thanked God for my safety, for the safety of the other drivers, and for what felt like a stretch in the spacetime fabric that allowed the man behind the wheel of the Ram truck to use his remarkable reflexes to react before impact. Stunt drivers got nothing on that guy!

Legally, all drivers are obligated to avoid harming others. And, according to Romans 13:10, if you love others, you won’t hurt them. So, to love others is to obey the law. The Honda Fit daredevil broke man’s law and God’s law by driving like a demented demon-a Grim Reaper trying to harvest lives on the highway.

Every day we experience heavenly twists of fate whether or not we’re aware of them. But successfully sidestepping spine-chilling situations that warrant a changing of your drawers is beyond being lucky or fortunate. I don’t expect divine intervention in my life’s daily calamities, but I pray for it-especially when I’m the idiot!

As for this spiritual phenomenon-it boggles my mind. I can only rationalize the surreal glitch in the flow of time-when movement appeared frozen-as a God Pause.

The LORD is good to those who wait for him, a refuge on the day of distress, Taking care of those who look to him for protection,

Nahum 1:7, NAB

Because you have the LORD for your refuge and have made the Most High your stronghold, No evil shall befall you, no affliction come near your tent. For he commands his angels with regard to you, to guard you wherever you go.

Psalm 91:9-11, NAB

The astute see an evil and hide; the naïve continue on and pay the penalty.

Proverbs 27:12

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