Driving does not bother me. It’s the other people driving around me that do. Before you say the dreaded pair of “R” words, I will – Road rage. I’ve got it, and I’ve got it bad.
While the Bible doesn’t necessarily give us tips on how to be a calmer driver, it does address anger and rage.
Prior to his conversion, the apostle Paul went by the name Saul. A Jewish man filled with rage of his own, he became obsessed with persecuting Christians. He wasn’t just an ordinary Pharisee in that time. He was more like a bounty hunter of Christians, dragging men and women who believed in Jesus from their homes and throwing them in prison (See Acts 8:2). He even watched without shedding a single tear as Stephen, a man of devout faith in Jesus, was stoned to death (Acts 7:58-60).
Acts 9 begins with Saul “breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.” Does this sound familiar? How many times have you breathed a murderous threat to the guy that cuts you off on the highway?
Saul headed out on the road to Damascus, seeking to throw more Christians in prison. On his way, he ran into a major speed bump. A burst of light flashed before Saul’s eyes, sending him to the ground. A voice called out revealing himself as Jesus, the one Saul had been persecuting. Jesus commanded him to go into the city (v. 6). Now blind from the light, Saul was led into town where he eventually encountered a man named Ananias, who healed him of his blindness.
Saul began his journey to Damascus in Acts 9 infuriated toward Christians, but his head-on collision with Christ brought about peace, not rage. After his humbling experience, Saul became Paul and started preaching the very message he tried to stamp out.
In the book of Ephesians, this same man once filled with wrath says to “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32, NIV).
God didn’t just change Paul’s name. He changed his heart. He can do the same for us as we struggle with anger or any other sin.
While I continue to deal with road rage, I’ve definitely learned to manage it more with God’s strength. In November 2014, I encountered my own humbling experience. I wouldn’t equate it to Paul’s conversion experience, but it was a wakeup call for me.
One day I decided to back up in the middle of a road with a 55 mph speed limit and pull into a dirt road. I paid no attention to the hill prohibiting me from seeing the oncoming car. Before I could turn onto the dirt road, a Volvo slammed into the side of the Jeep I was driving, essentially totaling both vehicles. Although the Jeep stood pretty firm, the Volvo skidded to the other side of the road, its front end and axel flying off as it landed in a ditch. When the teenage driver climbed out of the passenger seat of his car, the thought that I had just killed someone began to swim through my mind. Fortunately, he was the only one in the vehicle, and he was okay. I stepped out of the Jeep knowing right away it was my fault. Then I discovered something mind blowing – the guy I pulled out in front of wasn’t even mad at me.
"...the thought that I had just killed someone began to swim through my mind."
I immediately realized if he was not angry at me for my mistake that could have easily cost him his life, I shouldn’t become so frustrated with people who simply pull out in front of me without causing an accident.
Do I still get mad from time to time on the road? Yes. I am human. However when I do, I immediately begin to think of the grace displayed by the teenage boy whose life I endangered. I’m also reminded of the grace God shows me every time I mess up. It’s in those moments that He begins making me stronger in my weakness.
Imagine if every time someone frustrated us in any way, we decided to stop and pray for them. A lot of times we just see what’s taking place in the moment, unaware of what else could be going on in someone’s life that’s contributing to the conflict. I’ve found in the moments where I pray for those who anger me, I also receive from God the restoration I need in my life. As you choose today to exit the road filled with rage and merge onto His pathway of peace, I encourage you to pray for others, forgiving them as the Heavenly Father forgave you.