The camp my family serves is situated in a beautiful lake setting about 30 minutes from town. Since we live and work here, “running to the store” is something we actually have to plan into our day. Today was just such a day. I headed out this morning and had several quick stops to make before taking on shopping at the super center grocery store. You know which one I mean. These trips can often be overwhelming since I try to get much done in one trip to limit the time and expense spent on the road. But today, I rather enjoyed the time shopping, smiling at strangers, chatting with the employees. On the way home, I sang loudly, offering praise to God, which I do only when I’m alone in the car. God thinks I’m making a joyful noise, but others, not so much. And I’m okay with that.
As I turned on the last county road nearing home, I came upon a man going only 40 mph. Since the posted speed limit is 70 mph and I was in a safe area to pass, I gave my signal and started around the man. Much to my surprise, he sped up. I gave it a little more gas thinking he must not realize I was passing. Boy was I mistaken. Not only did he realize I was trying to pass him, it was his mission to make sure I was unsuccessful. When my speedometer read 60 mph and he was still gaining speed, I slowed a bit to get back behind him. Now, I would like to tell you with my best Christian attitude that my wonderful day continued on. But it didn’t. I became angry and was tempted to call 911 and report him for unsafe driving. Then I scratched that idea and decided I’d follow him and when he reached his destination, I’d give him what-for on his rude and dangerous actions. But my safety monitor kicked in and I had visions of getting shot or stabbed. Nix that idea. “Keep thinking, Traci. You’ll find a way to put him in his place.”
While vengeful thoughts swirled in my head, his blinker came on and he turned into the parking lot of his liquor store/bait shop/home. In that moment, all the anger left my body and I was overcome with pure grief for this man. He lives just a few miles from me and unfortunately, this is not the first time our paths have crossed. This man is perhaps the most miserable human being I’ve ever met. I’ve never seen him smile and just his presence can drain all happiness from a room. I honestly think I’d rather have dinner with Ebenezer Scrooge than this man. I thought of how his life must be suffocating with hopelessness and I wonder if he knows Jesus. I think he probably does not. My heart was saddened to think of living life with no hope and apparently, no love. In that moment, I thought to myself, “Take away my job, my home, even my family, but please don’t ever take away my Jesus.” And I began to pray fervently for this man. And I prayed for forgiveness for my ugly, sinful thoughts. I asked that God will give me the courage to share the love of Jesus with this man. Not just verbally, but with my actions. I’ve heard many times the ones who need love the most are those who are the most unlovable. I don’t have what it takes to love a man like that on my own. But through the Holy Spirit living in me, I can love the unlovable.
But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. ~ Matthew 5:44, 46-48