A West Roxbury Driver

I was talking with a few friends the other day and the topic of driving in Boston came up. Now, before you jump to the popular conclusion that Boston is full of bad drivers, let me make a little correction. If you check with the insurance companies, they will tell you that Boston drivers are actually some of the better.

Let me give you an example. I grew up in a place called West Roxbury. It has a main, center street – called Centre St! – that goes from one end of the town to the other, through the whole place, lengthwise. Centre St in West Roxbury is widely known as having a big traffic and pedestrian problem. No one has been able to solve it. Put that together with the fact that the population is heavily weighted toward seniors, and the driving becomes like an obstacle course. My friend said, “Jamaica Plain has a long main street and they don’t have the same problem.” I said, “But here’s the difference.

See, the thing about Centre St in West Roxbury is that it is always curving or ascending or descending. It never goes easy straight. That means that you can never see too far ahead. At all. For the whole length of the road. That means you can’t anticipate very well. You don’t know if around the bend there’s a parked car on the right, or if a person is crossing the street. You don’t know if after you reach the top of the hill, someone isn’t pulling out of a side street you couldn’t see. And then, as if that’s not tough enough for the average adult, the seniors on the road have to deal with this obstacle course, and they go really slow or are a lot of times all over the place. So, you have to always be alert and you can’t drive fast. That’s the way it is when you can never see too far ahead, and you don’t know what’s coming around the bend. You have to go in trust, one block at a time. Centre St in Jamaica Plain? They have long stretches of straightness, and they got no hills. It’s a lot faster and easier when you can see what’s up in the road ahead. When you don’t have to go by trust. But I tell you what. I think West Roxbury drivers are great drivers. It’s because we have a lot of practice handling the uncertain on the road. We are accustomed to driving by trust.”

When the Israelites left Egypt, they entered into the “desert”. To pass through the desert in the Bible, there are a lot of obstacles. There is the water and food problem, there is no map, there is the loss of your old job (whatever it was, unless you were the cook), there is the reality of living on the go in a tent and not in a house (think about the bathrooms problem). … the list goes on and on. And the biggest of all? You can’t see too far ahead. You have no idea what is really around the corner. You have to go forward in trust.

By the time the Israelites reached the promised land, they were the best in the world when it comes to living life. Passing 40 years through the desert, with no long stretches of easiness that the powerful nations had – learning how to take steps trusting God, one small step at a time, makes you able to handle whatever obstacles life gives you. That’s why, when the Israelites reached the promised land, they impressed all their neighbors. They became the great superpower in the region. And they pointed back to, not just God freeing them from Egypt, but God forming them in the desert. They would be good West Roxbury drivers.

A lot of people ask me, “What are you going to do next?” or “When are you going back to Ecuador?” “What are you going to do for work, or for vocation?” I can’t give an answer. It’s because I can’t see that far ahead. I have plenty of challenges to deal with right now. Maybe other people can see that far ahead in their life, but I can’t. I just know that I am with God, I am trusting Him, and that He’s making me really good at life.

If God calls you to bring you to a special place in life prepared for you, you’re not going to have long stretches of easiness and clear vision. You are going to have a lot of obstacles, and you’re not going to know what is around the bend. You will journey through the desert. But don’t get frustrated. That’s how God grows us – in trust. He will make you great at life.

And maybe, just maybe, a pretty good West Roxbury driver.

Then he led forth his people like sheep, and guided them in the desert like a flock. He led them in safety, so that they were not afraid; but the sea overwhelmed their enemies. And he brought them to his holy land, to the mountain which his right hand had won. He drove out nations before them; he apportioned them for a possession and settled the tribes of Israel in their tents. (Psalm 78:52-55)

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