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Screeching to a Halt

My youngest son just gained his second step towards his full driver’s license. This is a big deal for anyone, usually pursued right after your 16th birthday, but not him, not till now. At 23 he finally decided he wanted to learn to drive. Apparently his generation don’t really see the need, and I suppose they have a point with the high cost of maintenance, gas and insurance. Besides, most young people live in urban settings with quality bussing these days.

But of course, as his mom, there is always the safety concern when learning to drive. I encouraged him to take driver’s education which he did. He doesn’t live at home any more but rather in a much larger and much busier city so I was happy to learn he’d enrolled. This course teaches techniques to avoid collisions and in winter how to drive on black ice.

When the roadways here merely look wet during this coldest season it can be deceiving. It can be dangerous black ice. If you apply your brakes, or maneuver just a bit, or even do nothing obvious at all, you may well find yourself soon skidding to a sudden screeching halt-YIKES! Forget your brakes. In fact they may just make it worse. This is, at the least, completely unnerving. No warning. You’re just gone…into a mid-traffic twirl or into the ditch, and that’s probably the best outcome.

Danger was present even though you didn’t see it.

As a young girl, I loved my bike. It was my own set of “wheels”, my personal primary mode of transportation, my freedom. I would zoom home after school, change my clothes, and be gone flying down the street…but I was never allowed it to ride it to school. And, I never begged to be allowed to take it for one main reason-I never mastered the brakes. I was afraid of looking foolish and probably falling off in front of my friends, or worse, in front of boys, because I simply didn’t know how to stop properly. Oh, believe me, I did try to learn, and tried, and tried again but to no avail. Honestly, you would have laughed. I just couldn’t conquer the graceful dismount no matter what I did. In fact, I was so bad, and my constant falls so inevitable, that my dad made me felt patches to wear on my knees. I’d come whizzing back home where I would always crash and burn on the cinder driveway scrapping off the previous scabs until Dad fashioned kneepads for me. But even then I still came to a sudden skidding stop-not pretty.

Danger was present and I did see it.

A dead stop leaves us absolutely unhinged! There is nothing quite like it. How many things look harmless but can be deadly? As seniors we can look back and see where we went wrong, where something that seemed of little or no consequence suddenly seized us. Wrong decisions, wrong paths, wrong people can lead us to skid off into the ditch in the blink of any eye.

And even when we knew full well what was coming, that there was obvious danger, we did that thing anyway. Perhaps that risky behaviour was in the recklessness of our youth. We just couldn’t help ourselves. We minimized the possible peril in our minds and went for it…and its consequences changed everything.

There are a couple of verses in Proverbs that are almost back to back and identical-14:12 and 16:25 “There is a way that seems right…”

This could be a firm caution to us. Have you ever come to an abrupt stop? As a senior, perhaps at some point you travelled a road that looked fine, maybe even clear and safe, yet it was anything but. Or maybe a visit to the doctor has left you suddenly frozen in place hardly able to move. Maybe there was a phone call out of the blue and here you are, careening across black ice out of control through no fault of your own. Boy, you didn’t see that coming! In no time at all, you are all in a twirl sliding off course towards a screeching halt.

Or, perhaps there was a path that held obvious danger but you chose it anyway. I know in my vanity and arrogance I did. As mature adults, dwelling on this can lead to so much frustration and regret as we look back. These wounds may be so deep they can rob us of the joy of living in the present even though they are so old. We must let go of them. We must not get frozen in the past.

Remember, we no longer live in condemnation! Knowingly or unknowingly skidding into those mistakes, some long past, now hold no sway over us, no remorse, and no sorrow- unless we let them. We need to forgive ourselves and that can often be harder than forgiving others.

Lent is a time of examination and repentance. That we now carry no condemnation cost God his son, his only son. Ponder this. If you seek to understand just how loved you are, you will come to realize the price that was paid for you. There was a profoundly extraordinary cost! Honour that price by forgiving others and yourself. There is no better time than now…because today is one of the last days of your life!

Isaiah 43: 18-19 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

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