"God, teach me lessons for living so I can stay the course. Give me insight so I can do what you tell me—my whole life long one obedient response." - Psalm 119:33-34 The Message
Last weekend while I was out running errands the car in front of me stopped. It was a narrow street. I couldn't pass. A woman stepped out of the driver's side, set up a walker and then began assisting an elderly gentleman from the car to the sidewalk. A long line of cars piled up behind me. They couldn't see what was blocking traffic. They laid on their horns, outraged, raging at their wasted five minutes.
The gentleman with the walker grew furious. He glared at me, convinced I was a part of the rude honking chorus. The cars behind me pressed their horns even more insistently, convinced I was the one holding up traffic.
Anxiety threatened to overwhelm me while I repeated this mantra to myself: "I am living in God's kingdom and not in Chicago on a 10 degree day." I won't honk. I won't get out of my car and scream at the people behind me. I will stay the course. There is no way my whole life can be an obedient response to God, but I ought to be able to manage a single afternoon.
So I continued to smile at the man with the walker as the honking grew even louder and he grew even angrier, giving me an obscene one-finger salute when he finally reached the sidewalk.
Even on a dull Saturday afternoon, doing what God asks of us can take serious effort.
Dear God, give us the strength to live peacefully. Amen.
Matt Fitzgerald is the Senior Pastor of St. Pauls United Church of Christ, Chicago, IL.