While I was away in August, I had occasion to drive some of the major highways of the state of Pennsylvania in the United States. There is some beautiful country to see down there, but I always drive there with fear and trepidation – not because the drivers are worse than they are where I normally drive (they aren’t), not because the roads are fraught with pot holes and cracks and such (they aren’t). The problem I find with Pennsylvania highways is that they lack significant shoulders – even on the interstate highways and the PA Turnpike.
If you drive in Ontario, where I do most of my driving, you’ll find that shoulders are pretty generous. As my Dad would tell me when I was a kid, you can tell if a highway has been built to “Trans-Canada standards” by the width of the shoulders. If you look at the shoulders on, say, Highway 400, and compare them with the shoulders on King Road (or any other ordinary artery near you), you’ll find that the 400 has wider shoulders. Yet even most plain old highways in Ontario have shoulders wide enough to handle any vehicle that would need to pull off. In Pennsylvania, I did well to find a shoulder wide enough for a car every few miles. They deem these to be emergency pull-offs; trouble is, what happens if you have an emergency and you’re not near an emergency pull-off? You block traffic, that’s what happens.
In the passing lane of the Turnpike, the distance between the yellow line and the concrete barrier separating the two directions of traffic was barely a foot. I was nervous driving my tiny little Prius C; I can imagine what it must be like for large trucks!
What kind of ‘shoulders’ do you keep in your life? Do you have enough buffer on the sides of your travelling path to enable you to pull off in case of emergency? For example: do you have some savings that would enable you to scrape by in case of job loss or sickness? Do you take enough care in your relationships that you’re not one step away from a moral disaster? Do you leave enough time to get to your destination such that you are respecting the time of others who may be waiting for you?
We live in an age that cuts everything it can to the quick. It’s modelled for us all over the place. But if we model our lives according to God’s Word, we learn to appreciate the need for ‘shoulders’ in our lives.
What can you do to create the ‘shoulders’ you need?
“Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 124.8, NLT).