Driving last night to drop my almost 16 year old son at a friend's house, I was following a truck (okay, maybe a little too closely). Out of the quiet, my son asked me, "If that truck stopped suddenly, what would you do? Brake, or swerve to avoid it?"
Ah. He'd been reading the driver's manual I gave him in preparation for his upcoming permit test.
Wanting my response to be good advice as he might use it one day soon, I played out the scenario in my head before answering. I told him I would slam on the brake and try to stop completely. I wouldn't swerve because that would take me into the other lane of traffic, increasing my risk of damaging yet another car (or two or five).
This morning I thought of his question again, and made it personal.
How do I react when the unexpected happens?
Do I brake and stop all together?
Do I swerve and just try to go around it, hoping to avoid the situation?
Like driving, the first option probably involves fewer casualties, although there will still be crumpled metal and exploded air bags. But swerving gives you all that and brings others into an already bad situation.
In Genesis 12, Abram swerved. He saw danger ahead, and instead of stopping with the brakes on full tilt and trusting God for what was ahead, he planned a swerve. "Then a famine came to the land. Abram went down to Egypt to live; it was a hard famine. As he drew near to Egypt, he said to his wife, Sarai, "Look. We both know that you're a beautiful woman. When the Egyptians see you they're going to say, 'Aha! That's his wife!' and kill me. But they'll let you live. Do me a favor: tell them you're my sister. Because of you, they'll welcome me and let me live."
When Abram arrived in Egypt, the Egyptians took one look and saw that his wife was stunningly beautiful. Pharaoh's princes raved over her to Pharaoh. She was taken to live with Pharaoh.
Because of her, Abram got along very well: he accumulated sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, men and women servants, and camels. But God hit Pharaoh hard because of Abram's wife Sarai; everybody in the palace got seriously sick."
It's hard to believe that after the amazing things God had done for Abram, he felt he needed a plan of his own. God had led him on an incredible journey from one land to another, but it wasn't enough. Abram plotted a swerve to make sure things were going to go well for him on this new road ahead. Others were involved. Seriously so.
Wouldn't it be great if we could know how God had planned to provide for Abram if he'd chosen to apply the brakes and let God do something big and grand and huge to protect his life?
I swerve. You swerve.
We all swerve. It's what a friend of mine calls "human nature". We want to avoid pain as much as possible. But let me suggest that if we will choose to stop the next time the unexpected is on our road - even though we don't have a clue about what's next or how to get out of it - we'll be choosing to be stretched, challenged, strengthened and more than slightly amazed. We might even be awed by what we experience. When we stop, we get ourselves out of the way and let God do what He does best - work. I believe that if we can avoid a swerve, we'll do less damage. I believe we'll find that God is in the brake business.