Blessed are the Pacesetters (1)

Driving has become a vital element to our daily lives. Many of us commute to work, and though mass transit has found a greater role in recent years, we often still find ourselves driving a portion of the distance. We also drive to our supermarkets, Wal-Marts, shopping malls, sports events at professional and pee-wee levels, friends’ houses, family reunions, etc. Without our vehicles, we would be “trapped” within a short distance from our birth places.

Instead, we get to enjoy the open road. Of course, some locales are more open than others. You wouldn’t consider rush hour in any major city to be the open road. But you would find yourself in steep competition to get ahead, to move further in less time than the vehicle next to you.

The Back Story

I used to drive in and out of Boston throughout the work week. A drive that took 45-50 minutes on a calm day would consume at least two hours at rush hour. I was witness to (and sometimes participant in) the game of getting ahead.

Nowadays I live in a rural segment of New Brunswick, Canada. For the past three years I have enjoyed a very different pace of life. The only downside is that I find myself constrained by distance from most of the amenities I used to take for granted.

When we lived in Minnesota for a few years, our apartment was less than ten minutes from a Wal-Mart, in two directions. Restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, and movie theaters were just a quick trip from our door to theirs. Now I have to drive 15 minutes just to get to “town,” and 45 to 60 minutes to get to any Wal-Mart.

It was on one of these drives down the freeway that I started to notice something about the way I drive. It’s no secret, really, but I like to use Cruise Control. Why? Because I know I’m within the limits of the law, and can easily adjust for changes in those limits.

On this particular trip, I seemed to have forgotten to use the Cruise, and I was going at a decent speed down the road. (No, this isn’t a story about a speeding ticket, though I could tell you about the one I received a few years back.) I had increased my speed to pass a vehicle whose driver was unsure about the speed he wanted to travel.

Now, there’s never really a lot of traffic on our highway (in fact, I’m not sure why the province thought we needed a big, fancy four-lane). But, turning around the corner I saw my next “victim” and proceeded to pass them as well. Soon I was clicking along and making sure to pass anyone who came up in front of me.

Suddenly, it dawned on me: I was going way too fast, just because I wanted to get ahead of everyone who was ahead of me, whether they were going slower or not. So I backed off the accelerator and reset the Cruise. And you know what? I still got where I needed to go without a problem.

Thus began my musings on pace setting. It seems every time I’ve driven the highway since then, my thoughts keep going back to this concept.

Last week I was driving to church for my day in the office, just following a big snowstorm. My approach to driving had begun to change because of these musings, and I realized halfway to town that I had started a lineup of cars. No one was too close, wishing I was going faster or trying to push me out of their way. They were letting me plow through the slush, and used my driving to help them determine what speed was safe for them to travel at.

About Pace Setting

I realize that I’ve taken a long time to set the stage for my thoughts, so I’ll end this post with just a bit more setup.

Maybe we need to be pace-setters in our Christian walk, and not just flat out pace-breakers. Just maybe, we need to be reminded the rules of the road. We do this not just for ourselves, but for the other travelers around us as well.

Are you confused? Shocked? Wondering where this is going? We’ll unpack this in a following post.

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