February 28 – Learning to Drive All Over Again

potholeAs I make my way through life, I am in constant danger of hitting potholes – and often do, of having my alignment knocked off true and my daydreaming self jarred back to its sinful reality.

Potholes. They are everywhere and no respecter of persons. They appear in McMansion developments and on urban avenues. They torment drivers in the suburbs and center city alike. 2014 has surely begun as the year of the pothole.

We could probably conduct a poll to name the most vexing pothole for LPC people. In fact, if you are reading this via LPC email, send a reply email naming what you consider to be the worst pothole around. I will compile results and get them back to you.

Even though they’ve tried to fill it, I think I will stick with the pothole on Bellevue Avenue in front of the Langhorne Coffee Shop.

Not only is the 2014 pothole ubiquitous, it seems to have an amazing ability to metastasize.  If you’ve found a quarter mile or so of smooth pavement, enjoy it now, because the next time you drive it, you may hit an axle-breaking pit along the way.

So the year of the pothole means that we have to learn to drive all over again. Daydreaming is out. Enjoying the scenery is not possible. We have to pay attention to the road ten feet in front of us and not just to the end of the block. Some people are suggesting that we might have to quit texting as we navigate our way between potholes. There are alarmists in every crisis.

Have you noticed that you’re learning to drive differently since the plague of potholes began?

The road to hell may be paved with good intentions, but the road to work and play, to church and shopping is not very well paved at all.

In John’s vision of the City of God, the streets of the city are pure gold, as smooth as glass. Apparently there will be no need for front-end alignments on the other side of glory.

But we don’t live in the City of God. We live in the City of Man. The streets in the City of Man are not much different than the streets in the city of Philadelphia. They are a mess. The streets in the City of Man are subject to all the things of a sinful world that crack asphalt and chip concrete – death, disease, disaster, disappointment.  But in Augustine’s classic description, it is more than decay and decline that marks the City of Man. The City of Man “is dominated by self-love and built around the lowest common denominator in society, which is self-indulgence. Virtue is absent since the citizens of the City love themselves more than others…”

As I make my way through life, I am in constant danger of hitting potholes – and often do, of having my alignment knocked off true and my daydreaming self jarred back to its sinful reality.  Even when I know exactly where they are, I still hit the same old potholes of self-love and self-indulgence – pettiness and lack of care. I understand the prophet when he confesses to be a “man of unclean lips living in the midst of a people of unclean lips.”

I need a front end alignment.

So long as I am a resident alien in the City of Man I must navigate the potholes of the city and of my sinful nature. I will need the reforming and renewing power of the Holy Spirit to offer grace to help in time of need. I will need to be realigned to what is True.

But the gospel also declares my citizenship to be in the City of God, where the abiding virtue of the love of God and the love of neighbor controls. I must live under the laws of that city.

We won’t experience those smooth-as-glass streets of gold this side of glory, but grace is given that gives us eyes to see those potholes before their jarring hit and quick reflexes to steer clear of them before their damage is done.

In so many ways the Christian life is all about learning to drive all over again.

So what’s the worst pothole of 2014? I will share your answers anonymously unless you choose to answer metaphorically, in which case your answer will be held in confidence and not shared.