It had already been a long day and it was only mid-afternoon. Up early for work and a restless night’s sleep added to my fatigue. By the time I clocked out, take-out from one of my favorite restaurants sounded appealing.
I was tired, hungry and ready to be home. Clutching my little “to-go” treasure, I slid behind the wheel of my car and headed east. Depending on traffic and how fast I drove, I could be enjoying my turkey club and sweet potato fries in less than 25 minutes.
As I turned onto the lesser traveled road just beyond the city limits, my progress slowed significantly. A little red truck was in front of me and going soooooo sloooow. There usually was amble opportunity to pass on this particular stretch of road. But, not today. Cars coming from the other direction were spaced just close enough together that it wouldn’t have been safe. And I am not a rebel driver. So, I flipped open the take-out lid and started munching on my sweet potato fries.
We eventually approached a fork in the road. I was going right, and really hoped the little red truck was going left.
“Go left. Go left. Go left.” I whispered, willing the driver to go in the opposite direction.
He went right.
I don’t think I actually pounded the steering wheel, but there was a significant eyeroll and a loud, meaningful, exasperated exhale. Shoving another fry in my mouth, I punched the button for a new radio station and settled in for the long, slow haul, grumbling the entire time.
And then came the reprimand.
“A little more like mercy, a little more like grace
A little more like kindness, goodness, love and faith
A little more like patience, a little more like peace
A little more like Jesus, a little less like me”
There you have it. A simple song on the radio sends a clear message. Actually, this verse of Zach Williams’ song lays out much of the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5: 22-23 “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
On any given day, I can slip into “self” mode and these wonderful attributes I desire so much to embody fly right out the window. I think it’s called living by the flesh instead of by the Spirit. Just a few days ago, I was less than kind to a customer service representative on the phone. I could feel the frustration and impatience welling up inside of me and was not very successful in controlling either.
As followers of Christ we really do possess all of the fruit of the Spirit, because He dwells in us. I just think sometimes, on hard days, we forget. I know I do. Galatians encourages us in this way, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (5: 25)
No turkey sandwich or lack of sleep is reason to act the way I was acting. The message was loud and clear. The driver of the little red truck had a name. Maybe he was more tired than I was. Maybe he had had a really bad day. Maybe he wanted to drive faster, but health or other limitations didn’t allow it. The details weren’t important, but the driver of the little red truck was.
I didn’t know the man’s name or anything about him, but I started praying for him. For the next several minutes he was more important than my lunch or my fatigue or my own needs.
Eventually, I did pull around and pass the little red truck, but with a much different attitude than what I’d displayed two miles before. Glancing over, I saw the older man, staring intently at the road. He probably never noticed me. That’s ok. God allowed me to notice him. God moved me to slow down long enough to remember that life does not revolve around me.
The little red truck was in my rearview mirror now and soon I turned into my driveway and made it to my kitchen table. The turkey club was as good as I expected it would be and I was grateful. But, not so much for the sandwich as for the lesson learned while traveling slowly down a country road and munching on sweet potato fries.