Once, back when my husband was in medical school, he found himself in an elevator with a woman he instantly recognized from something he’d read in the school paper. So he struck up a conversation with her.
The woman was undoubtedly alarmed that a perfect stranger was so familiar with her background — where she’d gone to school, what she’d studied, her grade-point average, different awards she’d won. She may even have wondered if Doug were some kind of cerebral stalker.
“How do you happen to know so much about me?” she asked somewhat timidly.
“From that article the paper printed welcoming you to town,” he explained with a friendly smile. He could still recall it as clearly as if he’d read it yesterday.
Raising her eyebrows, she nodded slowly. Inhaled deeply. Waited impatiently for the elevator to reach her floor.
Then, as she stepped out, she told him, “That article was published seven years ago.”
Talented and Gifted
All to say, my husband has been blessed with a phenomenal memory. This fact was apparent from the moment I met him.
He could easily pass a test on information he read a single time. He could glimpse a phone number on a billboard and recall it weeks later. And he could study a map before we left home and take us straight to our destination, even if we had to drive across several states to get there.
Unfortunately, that was in the era before smart phones. Now when we travel, he feels compelled to consult Google maps every ten minutes. Of course, Siri will feed you the directions turn-by-turn to get you where you’re going, but Doug would rather see our progress for himself.
Most couples fight about sex and finances, but not us.
Instead, Doug and I argue about how soon stuff should be donated to Goodwill (he considers an item fair game if we haven’t used it in the past 5 minutes; I favor waiting until we are 100% sure we’ll never need it again).
We also squabble over how frequently a driver can safely look at his phone while the car is moving.
The only correct answer — and the rule we teach our children — is “not at all, ever, ever, ever.” But one of us has a harder time practicing what he preaches in that department than the other.
Can you relate? Whether you memorize the map or depend on your GPS, keep your eyes on the road while driving! If you need to look up directions or type an address into your phone, please pull over or have a passenger do it or just plug in your destination before you leave home, and let Siri give you step-by-step instructions.
I normally don’t even glance at my phone while driving. But, in the interest of full-disclosure, I’ll admit I’m not as safe a driver as I’d like to be myself.
I Need My Rest
Do you remember the lullaby Mary Poppins sang as she tucked Jane and Michael under their covers?
Stay awake, don’t rest your head.
Don’t lie down upon your bed.
You’re not sleepy, as you seem.
Stay awake, don’t nod or dream…
Of course, her admonitions were completely ineffectual, because the song lulled her charges right to sleep.
Driving affects me that same way. I can only make it 15-20 minutes behind the wheel before those parallel lane markers steadily rolling past put me in a trance.
Fortunately, my husband and most of my older children are immune to the hypnotic effect of sitting behind the steering wheel, so they do the majority of the driving when we travel.
On the rare occasions that I can’t avoid driving, I take a lots of stretch breaks. I run laps around the car. I do jumping jacks. And crunch ice. And sing opera. I listen to audiobooks. And pray aloud.
If you’re too sleepy to drive safely, you need to pull over. Otherwise, you may never get where you’re going at all. Driving while drowsy is just as dangerous as driving while distracted or intoxicated.
So grab a cup of coffee. Slap your cheeks. Stay awake. No nodding or dreaming when you’re the one driving!
Rules to Live By
These two admonitions – stay alert and memorize the map – are pragmatic driving tips, to be sure. But they make for some practical life lessons, as well.
Scripture repeatedly tells us to be on the alert, to stay sober, to remain vigilant:
- “Be on your guard and stay alert! For you do not know when the appointed time will come.” – Mark 13:33
- “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.” – Colossians 4:2
- “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8
- “The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear-minded and sober, so that you can pray.” – 1 Peter 4:7
- “So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober… putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and the helmet of our hope of salvation.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8
- “Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” – 1 Peter 1:13
- “And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times, with every kind of prayer and petition. To this end, stay alert with all perseverance in your prayers for all the saints.” – Ephesians 6:17-18
That last verse tells us God’s Word is a sword with which we can defend ourselves. But I’ve also heard the Bible compared to a roadmap for life.
How to Get Where You’re Going
Thinking of Scripture in this way helps explain why so many believers would want to consult it frequently. I’m all about spreading it open at the start of every day, pouring over its pages, prayerfully looking to God’s Word for guidance and direction.
In the same way, I believe the Bible is the first thing we should reference if we lose our way. Whenever that happens, it’s good to call time-out, pull to the side of the road, and get your bearings straight.
Sadly, life’s constant flow of traffic can sometimes prevent our stopping or slowing down, even for a second. Spur-of-the-moment Word studies and read-as-you-go encouragement may seem like a luxury you can’t afford amid the grind of daily responsibilities and looming deadlines.
That’s why nothing beats memorizing the map to get you where you’re going. If you want to stay on course from the outset, then hide the God’s Word in your heart. It will as an internal compass and keep you pointed in the right direction.
You can reference it mentally as you go, meditating on it, mulling over what it means, and how its timeless truth and wisdom relates to your current surroundings. That way, you aren’t dependent on good Internet reception; you don’t have to flip through pages or scroll down screens when the road ahead demands your full attention.
When we internalize and memorize the Word of God, it is ever present, ever available.
God’s Word keeps us from getting lulled to sleep along the way and enables us to reach our final destination safely, surely, and unscathed by Satan’s sundry schemes.