The way we are in bad traffic — or in any trying situation for that matter — reveals a lot about our character.
For instance, here’s some simple advice: if you’re thinking about marrying someone, observe him when he’s stuck in traffic. Or when she has to deal with bad Internet.
In these sort of scenarios, you’ll be able to learn if this person is kind and patient — or the sort to put down service staff at Singtel just to get a compensation voucher.
The point is, in situations such as when we’re driving, we get to choose if we react or respond to our circumstances. Each of these decisions goes some way into shaping who we become (Proverbs 1.31).
Personally, I’m still not the best Christian on the road. On my worst days, I’m entitled, I’m impatient — I’m angry. But on the better days where I responded — instead of reacting — God has done incredible things in my life.
In situations such as when we’re driving, we get to choose if we react or respond to our circumstances.
Here’s an example that stands out in my memory: in 2014, I would drive to school everyday, and there would always be an accident along some stretch of the highway. This was usually before 10am so that meant there’d be congestion — and a lot of inconvenience.
And as I drove, I’d always see an ambulance creeping up on the right at some point or another. I never thought much of it — I mean, accidents happen — normally I’d just get through the jam it caused and complain about it later to my classmates.
But one day, in the middle of another jam, it dawned on me that I could pray for the person inside who was hurting, maybe even fighting for his life. Or for that person who was desperately waiting for the ambulance to get to him.
So on that particular day, I chose to look past the inconvenience, respond well and pray.
I prayed for the wounded person’s healing and that he would come to know God in some miraculous way. I prayed again the next day, when another ambulance invariably passed me. And the next as I sped by the scene of an accident. And so on.
It wasn’t something I used to do, but I suddenly found myself praying every day.
My prayers soon began to stretch beyond the confines on my car. Eventually, I was praying for people I walked by on the streets — children, young people, old people, handicapped people. It didn’t matter.
Months passed as I prayed and prayed and prayed. A singular question began to grow in my heart: Where do all these prayers go?
I developed a faith conviction that every single word uttered in prayer to God is heard by Him.
I began to ask God if they mattered at all. Were my prayers making a difference? I didn’t want to be merely performing a ritual or going through the motion as I drove. (Short answer: they really do — see Revelations 8.3-4.)
By this point, I had been praying fervently for close to a year now. And on one of the days I was on worship team duty, an acquaintance approached me during the altar call. She said she had a word from God for me:
“God hears. He hears your cries.”
I can be pretty cynical as a person, but that was a game changer. From that moment on, there was a spark lit within me. I developed a faith conviction that every single word uttered in prayer to God is heard by Him.
My daily prayers became a lifestyle — a lifestyle developed from a single decision, made one morning in heavy traffic.
I think it’s really cool how God began to turn my life around from that one moment in the car. Things started to change. I began to care for others, and I would pray for them — try and meet their felt needs.
I began to do things I would never have done in the past — things on God’s heart that had been so unattractive to me.
I often wonder what kind of person I’d be now if I had simply chosen to complain about traffic in my head — just like all the other days before that first prayer. I’d rather not know how many ambulances God would’ve mercifully sent my way before I finally did things His way.
What I have learnt while driving is that simple decisions can have profound impacts and consequences.
* * *
A year after that change in me, I was driving near my place when a truck driver suddenly swerved into my lane. In all honesty, he could have so easily pinned me against the road barrier. I was so angry for my life — he almost killed me! I was still shaken as I pulled up at the next red light.
As the car came to a stop — even in the fury of my heart — I felt a small, calm voice in my heart say:
Pray for him. He needs to be safe too. Pray for him.
I was so angry at this person. I wanted to be carnal about the whole thing. I wanted to react in the flesh: sound the horn for a good thirty seconds, get out of the car and find a way to end up on Stomp — but somehow I obeyed, and I prayed.
Father, please have mercy on him. Help him to be safe too. Let us both return safely to our families. Lord preserve his life. Thank you Father. Lord, grant us journey mercies. Lord have mercy …
As I finished the prayer, I noticed the song on the radio had changed since the near-accident. Hoobastank’s The Reason was playing, and I listened to the chorus in tears:
I’ve found a Reason for me
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new
And the Reason is You.