This morning I had an interesting encounter with two very large trucks while biking my normal route into Portage, Wisconsin on State Highway 51.
Usually, road noise does not bother me. I’ve biked from the Mississippi River to Lake Michigan across the middle of the state. And I have traveled from Michigan to Minnesota across the top of the state. Rarely have I ever felt intimidated or threatened. But, this morning I felt both.
There actually was no real reason to feel that way as I was biking on a lane used only as a shoulder along a four lane section of 51 south of Portage that borders a 3 mile stretch of levee that protects the southern part of the city from flooding by the Wisconsin River. Drivers use the four lanes, two north bound and two southbound, and leave the 10 foot paved shoulder on either side for temporary stops. I was riding the furthest possible line from traffic lanes.
As I approached town, I could hear the familiar sound of large tires signaling that a big truck was lumbering toward me. Semi-trucks normally move over to use the inmost lanes when passing me leaving me an entire lane empty between us for a traffic buffer. I appreciate that. And experience has taught me to distinguish the sounds so I often can tell how fast a truck is approaching, whether or not it is moving over and whether of not I need to turn and look.
This morning the ‘rumble’ of the tires was especially loud, alerting me that the truck was approaching very quickly and sounded as if the vehicle that they were attached to was in my lane. I got an uneasy feeling, the hair on my neck stood up and the blur of a huge vehicle raced past me. In an instant, thoughts began to race through my mind at warp speed: was the driver sending me a message, a brush back, if you will, was the driver on a cell phone, where were the cops when you need one, can I get a plate number and other nice thoughts. The confusion of my thoughts and the sound of the truck tires caused me to completely miss an identical second truck right on the bumper of the first. Now, I was beginning to get a little steamed. I was ready to stop, pull out my cell phone which my wife asks me to carry ‘just in case’ and call in the dangerous encounter. Wouldn’t someone want to know what happened and be moved to action by my discomfort?
A few seconds elapsed and I had time to reflect on the incident a little more rationally. And I began to objectively notice some details. First, the tires of the vehicles were no closer that the white boundary line on the pavement. I was at least 11 feet from them. Second, although the trucks were large, they probably were not moving much over the speed limit if at all. They were just big and somewhat scary. Third, they were both painted in a desert ‘camo’ pattern. Finally, I noticed that both trucks were pulling large open trailers filled with sand bags. Ah. Ok.
Now, I got it. I knew what was going on. The National Guard unit that these trucks were attached to were responsible for shoring up Interstate 39 to keep it from being washed out by flood waters caused by the recent record rains in the Madison area and up river. I felt just a bit sheepish as I realized that something far bigger and more important than my comfort was occurring. PROPER PERSPECTIVE CHANGED ME. That’s not to say that I was ready for a prayer meeting, but my feelings changed. And in a good way.
Proper perspective is not only essential in everyday life, it is especially necessary for our spiritual lives. Perspective matters! And how! When God decides to ‘touch’ a troubled spot in our lives, we often feel that He is treating us unfairly or too harshly. Our perspective is…God’s hand is against me. But that is never true. God is always for us, regardless of how the circumstances might cause us to believe. And that perspective is very important.
Proper perspective helps us focus more on what God is doing IN us and focus less on what’s happening TO us. And that perspective can make all the difference. Let’s let it.