“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” Philippians 4:4 (ESV)

I have been around some pretty crazy drivers in my life. In China it seemed, vehicles can go in both directions in the same lane! And their traffic laws are more like, guidelines. Go figure! And somehow, they seem to move symbiotically, with minimal accidents. As such I chose not to drive there when given the opportunity in China.

In Australia we learned early on that you had to be aggressive, but to not take offense by the drivers. One time, Shellie was intentionally run off the road, well, the driver actually never let her get unto the road, as she was pressed unto the gravel shoulder and they simply blew passed her laughing! And BTW, Shellie was very pregnant at that time! And in California where we grew up, we learned to drive defensively. You had to because there are so many cars on the road!

But let me tell you, the drivers in Athens are out right scary! I don’t know if they are simply distracted college students texting their friends, or middle-aged folks on marijuana, or just bad drivers! Just recently, I was on my mountain bike crossing the road and a car (obviously I am talking about the driver) didn’t even pause for the stop sign that was in front of them as they flew right through it. It seemed they were totally oblivious to any traffic rules or signs, or me that was rightfully crossing the street. BTW, I was ok! Another day, a car stopped in the fast lane on Broad Street, which is a main highway in our city. They stopped so they could make a U-Turn. They were oblivious to the fact, or didn’t care that they were stopping up traffic on their side of the road. They could have gone up a bit, made a left turn then got back on Broad! Or later that same day, a car stopped in the middle of another road, backing up traffic into the intersection, just so they could look at the house on their side of the street. Perhaps it didn’t dawn on them that they could have actually pulled over, and avoided any congestion, huh??? Awhile back someone stopped on the freeway, yes, in the “slow lane” because they apparently missed their off ramp in Athens. They literally backed up so they could get off. Yes, really! Another example (of many more I could tell), just coming out of UGA, a driver cut across from the inside lane to the outside, yes, cutting off people, then getting on the onramp, before suddenly doing a U-Turn and going against the traffic to get off and back on the road I was on. But it is not over, this person passed the onramp to go the other direction, then stopped in an intersection to make a U-Turn on the busy road, where U-Turns are not allowed. So they stopped up traffic once again! And this person was not a college student! And just this last week, I had someone tailgating me, like literally inches behind me. When the road finally became two lanes this person came along side me, totally oblivious to how she was driving, doing the exact same thing to the car in front of her. And yep, she was texting or doing something on her phone. I don’t think it was personal, or that she was in a hurry to get to an important appointment. She was just not paying attention to her driving!

Anyway, why would I spew all this stuff about bad drivers? Why should I go to such extremes to lament on such a thing? I have found that if I am not careful I can allow others (i.e. these bad drivers) to rob me of joy and peace in my life. If I am not alert I will begin to take offense, get angry and let this person ruin my day. It is so easy to give people control of our lives! When I drive I now realize I have a grand opportunity to choose grace, instead of criticism. I need to stay focused and not let these people take control in my life. I find myself forgiving often, praying for and blessing others, and choosing not to make judgments about them. Who knows what they are going through?! Besides, they have to stand before God for themselves, just like I do! Like Paul tells us, I must have the same attitude, and mindset that Jesus had, to not see my interests as more important than anyone else (Philippians 2:4-5). Obviously, I am not simply talking about drivers, though they are definitely included. We need to be alert to any place we are allowing our joy and peace to be stolen from us. Remember the enemy is a thief, liar and destroyer (John 10:10). The bottom line, don’t let others control your heart and rob you of peace and joy! It’s your choice!!!

Ask the Lord to show you any place you have allowed others to steal your joy and peace. Confess it, forgive them and then bless them! Ask the Lord to show you how to carry and guard His presence, even amongst “bad drivers!” Ask Him to show you how and where to extend even more grace to others, who you might think don’t deserve it (i.e. letting people in your lane, slowing down, and being the type of driver/person, you want others to be). Ask Him for the grace to rejoice always!!!