I’m sure many of you have shared this experience in one form or another, but as I was traveling to Prior Lake on Wednesday, a Highway Patrolman exited an off- ramp and began following me. Immediately I checked my speed and some how my right foot automatically moved from the accelerator to the brake pedal (you know the reaction).
Now I don’t know about you, but I find it almost humorous how I drive when a patrolman is following me. It’s almost as if I was 15 years old again and the drivers ed instructor is sitting beside me—hands at ten and two. I immediately pay very close attention to how fast I’m going, checking the speedometer several times a minute even though I have the cruise control set. My eyes begin scanning back and forth for possible dangers ahead, then glancing in the rear view mirror to see what’s going on behind my vehicle, also hoping the patrolman has pulled off somewhere. Unlike one of my sons who would occasionally begin swerving back and forth when an officer was behind him, I made sure I drove as straight as possible.
As I reflected on my traumatic experience, I wondered, why do I become so much more attentive and alert when a patrolman is following me than when there is not. Are highway patrolmen or women malevolent people? Why do I have stronger feelings that they are out to get me than that they are just doing their jobs to keep the highways safe? Shouldn’t I actually feel safer when I’m in the presence of a patrolman? And why did I breathe a huge sigh of relief when he turned off and headed another direction?
There was a time in my life I felt the same way about God as I do a patrolman. I felt this great sense of uneasiness and apprehension when I was in God’s presence. Rather than seeing him as the Psalmist does in Psalm 46, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble,” I mistakenly saw him as the avenging, wrath-filled God as found in Hebrews 10:30, “The Lord will judge his people. It is a dreadful thing to fall in the hands of the living God.”
Since then I have come to gain a clearer understanding of God. Rather than feeling uneasy in God’s presence, I find peace and comfort knowing he loves me deeply and that he would never do anything that wasn’t in my best interest. On the other hand, I have also discovered the importance of fearing God— of trembling in his presence— because it’s when I’m most attentive and alert to the Spirit’s presence that I keep from falling into the sin that so easily entangles me.
I have a friend who is a Highway Patrolman and he is a very caring and loving person, yet if he were to pull me over, he must remain true to his badge which may mean giving me a ticket. (He actually pulled his wife over once and gave her a ticket).
The same is true of our God; although loving, gracious and merciful, God must also remain true to his nature of being holy and just. My prayer for each one of you is that you would enjoy basking in the presence of God. God cares deeply about you and me and promises to work for our good and his perfect love drives out all fear. May his goodness and love follow you all the days of your life!
Under His watchful eye, Mike