Dear Tailgating Driver

1 corinthians 13-4

Dear Tailgating Driver,

I get it.  You have somewhere to be.  And you needed to be there 5 minutes ago.

And, obviously, you getting there is more important than traffic laws or the personal safety of everyone in my minivan.

But here’s the thing.  I’m not going to speed up.

You may ride close enough for me to see your sunglasses and hair-style in my rear-view mirror….

You may honk in annoyance…..

Or weave back and forth like you would pass me in a second if that solid yellow line just had a few dots in it…

But I won’t be pushed along faster than I intend to go.  I don’t want to be pulled into some mysterious competition to see who gets ahead and I won’t let you set the pace of our little road trip.

So, I’ll purposefully hang right at the speed limit and not go any faster.

And, you know what, I’ll even pull over and let you go by.

That’s right. I will step aside and simply conceded defeat.

Yes, Mr. Impatient Driver, congratulations. You are faster than me. You are speedier and sportier.

If you want so badly to get where you are going, be my guest. I’ll just continue along behind you without all the stress and bother.

The inner voice of justice might be screaming at me to do otherwise.

I was there first, after all. I have important places to go, too.

I was going the speed limit and not plodding along at 15 MPH or anything, so what’s the big deal?

Someone needs to teach you a lesson!

Where are the state police when you need them? Doesn’t anybody see how right I am and how wrong you are?

But is it worth it?

Seems pretty pointless to fight over who gets to the red light or the stop sign first.

So, you win.

And thanks really, for reminding me that there’s no point to any of the seemingly endless competitions we get pushed into by people tailgating our lives.

Do we need to vie for the position as the Best Mom, Best Wife, Most Stylish, Smartest, Most Used by God, Best Blogger, Best Cake Baker and Craft Maker, Most Professional, Most Educated, Most Awarded?

Does any of that really matter?

Sometimes, we find ourselves in the middle of a competition and we’re not even sure how we got there. Someone just seems determined to show us up and put us down.

Maybe they are criticizing us behind our back and spreading rumors.

Maybe they’ve taken credit for our ideas at work or covered over our contribution to a project.

Maybe they’ve courted the attention of the boss and now receive special privileges and honor at the expense of others.

Maybe they never cease to brag about their life while making us feel insignificant and inferior.

I’ll admit it. Some part of me wants to fight back to defend my honor and my worth.  Might as well throw down the gauntlet and just compete already. After all, “she started it.”

Even in ministry, the struggle is there.

Our motives seem so pure, like wanting to share this message God has given us and bring Him glory, but somehow pride sneaks in. We feel like people need to hear what we have to say, so it’s okay to shove others aside and muscle our way to the front.

According to Paul, though, that’s not what love does.

He says, love:

“does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5 NIV).

Love is a humble serving, a self-sacrificing consideration of others, a putting other people first and letting them pass by to sit in a seat of honor or be the first to cross the finish line.

I love The Message paraphrase of Philippians 2:3-4 also:

Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand” (Philippians 2:3-4 MSG).

So, in love, we may choose to step aside.  Let someone else pass.

Love says, “Here, be my guest.”

Because, for all their pushing and shoving to get ahead, and all their tailgating, honking efforts to pass you by, here’s the bottom line:

God loves the humble.

Only He chooses whom to put down and whom to exalt.

For exaltation comes neither from the east
Nor from the west nor from the south.
But God is the Judge:
He puts down one,
And exalts another.  Psalm 75:6-7 NKJV

We can leave it to Him and trust Him with our ministry, our calling, our work, our reputation.  All of it.

Sincerely,

~Me~

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

I Know What You’re Talking About

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 31:6

Sending my oldest daughter to first grade has been a daily exercise in navigating cutthroat competition.

It’s a compulsion.  An insatiable need to be the best, the smartest, the fastest, the first.

So, when choosing books at the end of the day, she stressed over whether anyone else had a higher reading level.

It was tragic when the girls in her reading group lost the spelling competition to the two boys.

There were the races at recess, how many beads they had earned for their Accelerated Reader necklaces in library, and who was on the highest level math timed test.

For weeks, I gave my daughter profound words of Momly wisdom.  “You don’t always have to be the best, babe.  You just have to try your hardest and that is always good enough.  Don’t worry about anyone else. You are smart and capable and you should be proud of what you can do and be thankful for the way God has made you.”

She would nod, hug me and then run off to play, seemingly receiving the full weight of my words.

But no matter how good my speeches were, they didn’t really change her–even the ones I felt could have been scripted into TV sitcom about a perfect mom in one of those heart-to-heart mother-daughter moments.

She still felt both compelled and destroyed by competition.

Then there was the day when I finally looked at her and said, “I get it. I know what it’s like.  I have spent most of my life feeling like I needed to be the best, the fastest, the smartest, the most capable, the most responsible, the kindest, and just generally the most perfect person there is.  And I am telling you now that doing your best is good enough and that you need to be comfortable as you.”

She looked back at me a little befuddled, as if it never occurred to her that maybe this neurotic need to be perfect was genetic.  And while her character didn’t change in a revolutionary moment, she seemed to listen more closely to what I had to say.

Because I have been there.  I have lived that.  I do actually know what I’m talking about.

In the same way, it comforts me somehow to know that when Jesus asks me to endure, to be patient, to withstand trials and suffering, to love my enemies, to speak truth, and to show love, that He knows what He’s talking about.

Eugene Peterson wrote:

“Lord Jesus Christ, how grateful I am that You have entered the arena of suffering and hurt and evil.  If all I had were words spoken from a quiet hillside, I would not have what I needed most — Your victory over the worst, Your presence in time of need.”

Jesus could have preached “Blessed are the merciful and the meek and the pure in heart” for His entire ministry.  Those messages would have been challenging and beautiful, but lacking in impact.

Thankfully, He didn’t stop there.  He showed mercy.  He displayed meekness, even choosing to intercede for those crucifying Him as He labored to breathe on the cross.  His heart remained pure, even as Satan tempted Him in the desert.

Jesus didn’t just say it; He lived it.

That’s why the writer of Hebrews reminds us that:

For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.  Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted (Hebrews 2:17-18).

How precious is Christ’s mercy for us!  He never stands poised from a throne of judgment, hurling down condemnation at us for messing it up sometimes or falling short of perfect every day.

He is a merciful High Priest, who bends down low and helps us overcome.

In the same way, Jesus asks us to do more than just make speeches at people and proclaim truth.  He asks us to live it and then share it.

Paul wrote:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God (1 Corinthians 1:3-4).

So, when we share with someone what it’s like to overcome the sin of gossip, it’s because we ourselves have been there and done that.

When we watch a stressed out young mom’s children, it’s because someone watched our little ones for us.

As we place our arm around the woman diagnosed with breast cancer, as we make a meal for a new widow, as we sip coffee across from the wife who’s husband says, “I don’t love you anymore,” we give to them the same comfort we received in our own lives.

Jesus asks us to live it and then share it.  That’s what He Himself has done for us.

What comfort has Christ given to you that you need to share with someone else?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.