Recently, a friend of mine posted a picture on his social media page of a pilot in the cockpit of a fighter jet. He was offering a salute and the caption read, “When the stranger you’ve been speeding with … takes his exit.” It immediately made me laugh, and say, “Thank You!” again that I did not get what I deserved on one bright and sunny, spring morning.
When I broke the news to my mom that I was going to be moving to work in the Washington DC area for two years, you might say that she definitely did not take it very well! She threw every argument that she could breathe life into at me! What was I thinking? I did not run this by her first. I have never lived in a small-sized city, let along a big, major metropolis type of city! It definitely did not sound like a good idea to her. After all (at that time) Washington DC was not only our nation’s capital, but was (in her eyes) the murder capital of the world! She tried every conceivable way in the world to talk me out of it. But my plans were set. It was a great, new job and an amazing opportunity.
Soon came the time for me to pack my meager belongings and make the eight hour drive northward. Once I hit the Interstate, it was clear sailing; and as far as I was concerned there was “no turning back!” The first leg of my journey was familiar, heading south on Interstate 75. This road, I had traveled many times. Then the switch to Interstate 40 East. This one had taken me to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg many times. Then on past that point was where my real journey began. I hit Interstate 81 North up toward Virginia. It was a beautiful day and an enjoyable drive. From my starting point just north of Knoxville, Tennessee, I made it up toward and past Bristol, Tennessee into Virginia. That was where it started to get interesting.
My vehicle of choice was a 1988 metallic blue Dodge Daytona Shelby with black louvers covering the back window. Of course, I had the standard version, not the turbo version, but to me, it was a smokin’ hot little car. It would not really give a quick burn off the pedal, but you could get the speed up pretty good on the open road. Ah yes … open road …. where my real adventure began!
As I crossed over into Virginia, two cars passed me. They did not seem to be together, but they seemed to be running together. The lead car carried New York tags and the second car wore Pennsylvania tags. The New York car was the definite lead, but the Pennsylvania car was staying close enough to keep a draft. Without thinking of the consequences, I sort of fell in behind them. It seemed good to travel together with others instead of alone. Oh my goodness! What a beautiful day for a drive. The rolling hills of Virginia were whizzing by in all their spring-time splendor.
At one point, I looked behind me and noticed that our little caravan had picked up another traveler, (who I later learned was a Georgia car.) He was about three car-lengths behind me so I could not really tell a lot about him, other than he seemed to also be traveling alone. Georgia picked up the pace when we picked up the pace, so without any formal agreements, he had made himself one of us! Yes, I felt like I had been adopted into another little road family on this journey toward new life experiences.
So there I was, sitting back, comfortable to allow the New Yorker to lead the way. Pennsylvania stayed pretty close to them, but I didn’t want to feel like an interloper, so I stayed a few car-lengths back. I was looking around, enjoying the scenery. I did a quick check to make sure that Georgia was still there. If you have ever traveled this particular interstate, you know that it has hills and valleys that you go through. At one point, as I was happily traveling along, we were headed up a fairly steep hill. Just before we topped the hill, I happened to look down at my speedometer! Oh my word! Oh MY Word!! OH…MY…WORD!!! Let’s just say that the speedometer was very closely hugging the three digit mark … extremely, very closely! Immediately, I let off the gas, and the uphill motion slowed me down a bit. When I slowed, Georgia slowed by default.
I did not hit my brakes, but just before I topped the hill, I saw Pennsylvania’s brake lights go on. Of course, by that time, New York had already crested over the top of the hill. I still had not touched my gas, or brake and was trying to let the incline of the hill slow me down naturally. Once I topped the hill, New York and Pennsylvania were a pretty tight knit couple and the Virginia State Trooper in the median had already turned his blue lights on and was making his way onto the highway. In that moment, I knew that I had really done it this time! I was in Virginia, Virginia, I tell you … driving a Daytona people, not AT Daytona … this was Virginia! And this was when the speed limit was still only fifty-five! I was going to jail, I was going to jail; I knew in that instant that I was most certainly, with no mercy, going to jail!
What was I thinking?! After all, I really had not run this whole Washington D.C. thing by my mother first. Plus, I really had never lived in a small-sized city, let along a big, major metropolis type of city! I am a country girl, for Pete’s sake! Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness! This whole adventure definitely did not sound like a good idea to me with this new turn of events.
So here we were, a pretty sick-looking bunch of puppies. I stayed waayyyy back from New York and Pennsylvania, who were pretty much, at this point, forced to stay together. Georgia distanced himself back as much as he could from me also. That dang state trooper was taking his all-in-good-leisurely-make-you-hyperventalate time coming up beside us. I was looking in my rear view mirror, watching him like a hawk. I’m surprised my car was staying on the road because my attention was behind me.
Well, Georgia was not looking over to in-any-way acknowledge the state trooper was even there. Slowly, he passed him by. I thought I could see a shimmy of Georgia’s vehicle as he breathed a deep sigh of relief. Ah, but he still had a few feet to get to me. I was thinking that I don’t even know who to call when I go to jail! Then, I figured the, “if I do not look at you, you will not see me” action worked for mister Georgia, so I did the same. I just kept on minding my own business, looking straight ahead and driving. I did not breath, I did not blink, I did not look his way…not even out of the corner of my eye. I was holding my breath, just waiting for the ax to fall, but…he moved onward. I broke out in a sweat at that point and allowed myself to somewhat release the death grip on the steering wheel, and release the breath that was starting to make me light-headed.
Poor New York and Pennsylvania did not fair quite so well. (I believe they may have actually gone to jail!) The state trooper pulled up along side of Pennsylvania. I think they were trying the same tactic that I used. It did not work for them. He flashed his lights and did a HARD, very hard, motion for them to pull OVER! Then he slowly, taking his sweet “I got you” time, dragging this out, meandered up beside New York and did the same thing. Then he slowed up and pulled in behind New York. By this time, Georgia had moved over into the passing lane. I did the same, although still in front of him. Oh yes, we were doing our little fifty-five miles an hour as we passed the tragic duo, absolutely not EVEN looking that way, just in case the trooper changed his mind.
Georgia and I both stayed at fifty-five miles an hour for about ten miles or so. I believe we were both coming out of our near-death experience. (You realize that inexperienced, non-city dweller, country bumpkins that end up in the slammer in a far-away land sometimes don’t make it out!) It seems that Georgia got tired of the slow pace. He had regained his equilibrium and moved over into the passing lane. He came up beside me, looked over at me and wiped his forehead as if wiping the sweat from his brow. He grinned big and moved forward…faster than fifty-five. That very moment was what the picture that my friend posted on his social media page reminded me of.
Well, this little girl had prayed, when she topped the hill and realized that she was probably going to jail, that if He could get me out of this, that I would promise to keep the speed limit until I got where I was going, and I wasn’t about to break that promise then! Actually, I was so shell shocked that I didn’t break that promise for quite some time!
I absolutely did not get what I deserved that day and I am so very thankful!
That is how it is with God’s gift of salvation. Here we are, happily going along, zooming at break-neck speeds, unaware of the penalties of sin that are just on the other side of the hill ahead of us. Some of us are deliberately looking away from God’s laws to forge ahead at their own pace, and others are sometimes swept along because they are not paying attention, which in turn sometimes causes others to follow them there also.
The Truth is, that as we travel this highway of life, we are all sinners because of the original sin in God’s perfect Eden; and we have inherited a human nature that has a bent for sin as a result. Mankind was created in God’s image, for relationship with Him. He so badly wants that relationship to be whole again. He even furnished a way back to Himself, back to relationship. It is through His Son, Jesus Christ, who came and inhabited the body of one of God’s human creations. He showed us how to live a perfect life, and to love and to serve and, yes, to obey. The payment for that original sin, and all sin that plagues the world, was placed on His shoulders on the cross of Calvary, which He willingly took for us. He died a tragic, horrible death. He was buried. But, the Good News that changed the whole world, is that on the third day, He arose with this amazing new life; arose to bring each and every one of us new life … eternal life and eternal relationship!
I pray that you have, or will come to accept this gift that God is graciously offering. Even now, no matter where you are, or in what situation you find yourself, He is there, right there, right now, right in this precise instant, waiting for you.
Yes, God wants to make sure that we do not get what we all deserve, and for that I am, and will be eternally grateful!
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. ~~ Romans 10:9-10 (NIV)
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life. ~~ Revelation 22:17 (NIV)
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