The Center Line

During high school I had a “rough around the edges” 1971 Plymouth Satellite Sebring. Yes. It was a so-called muscle car. It had a 383 V-8 engine with a four-barrel carburetor averaging about 8 miles to the gallon and less when I drove fast on rural country roads. I might as well add that it didn’t run well on anything but 99-octane “leaded” gas. It also had slot mag wheels with headers, straight pipes with glass packs, aftermarket air shocks and wide tires at the rear. However, going back to my statement about “rough around the edges,” it had a few cracks and chips in the paint and the front bucket seats were worn and frayed but concealed with seat covers. And, I’m embarrassed to say, it was metallic brown. Now that isn’t just rough around the edges, that’s just rough my friends. Although popular in that era, you can’t deny the fact that it was a dreadful color regardless. With all of that said about its roughness, it was loud and fast, real fast. I won’t elaborate on that except to say the speedometer pegged at 160 mph.

However, even with all of its power and speed, I quickly learned that my muscle car wasn’t much good in a blinding snow storm. How did I come to that conclusion? As I remember, it was a blustery, winter day in January during my junior year of high school. It started snowing lightly in the afternoon and got heavier as the evening approached. I had basketball practice directly after school on that particular day. As usual, I took a shower in the locker room after practice and was talking to teammates when the coach entered the locker room and told us all to clear out and get home because the snow was getting deep and the wind was picking up. I wasn’t sure what the fuss was all about until I got outside and saw the snow and felt the wind for myself. It was even worse than I imagined. So, I slowly and cautiously drove across town and headed toward home which was yet another 2 miles in the countryside.

By this time the wind was blowing the snow sideways and snow was also blowing off the fields and out of the side ditch. I literally couldn’t see out my windshield to drive so I stopped for a moment and opened my door and for some reason looked down. When I saw a white center line, I thought I’d just drive home slowly with my door open looking down at the center line. As crazy as that sounds, that’s what I did although I had to stop ever so often to look right and left to determine how close I was to getting home. I have to admit it was the slowest I’ve ever traveled, 2 miles in a motor vehicle. But thank God, I got home safely.

I didn’t make it home because I had a loud and fast car. I didn’t even make it home that night because I had straight pipes with glass packs and aftermarket air shocks. All of that proved to be useless given the circumstances. I made it home safely because I kept my eyes on the center line. Well, mostly that is. There were a couple of moments during the saga that night I tried driving without my center line reference and it nearly resulted in disaster. Even though I installed snow tires on my car for the winter, I nearly got stuck as I barely edged off the road. Given the conditions, it’s hard to imagine but I took my eyes off the center line twice before learning my lesson. After that, I kept my head down with my eyes constantly searching for the center line.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I realized many years later that this moment had a powerful spiritual application. I eventually learned to appreciate the fact that Jesus is my center line and I always navigate life best when my eyes are fully on Him. You might remember the story about Jesus walking on water and Peter joining Him as recorded in the gospel of Matthew chapter 14. Yes. Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water to join Jesus but then something happened. In a moment, Peter lost his focus on Jesus. Instead, he cast his eyes on the wind. At that point, Peter sank and had to be rescued and brought to the boat by Jesus. What did Jesus say to Peter then?

MT 14:31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Okay, I had a loud and fast car in high school. It was a fun ride on dry pavement, but it was nearly useless in the snow. After all, driving fast wasn’t an option in snowy weather. Nevertheless, I learned that I could depend on the center line in good and bad weather and later realized that Jesus was my center line. In my experience, when my eyes are fixed on Jesus because my faith is fully in Him, I navigate the storms of life safely. However, when my faith is shaken and I focus on the storm, fear overwhelms me and I sink or literally drive off the road and nearly get stuck in the snow. My advice for you and for me is to fix our eyes on Jesus by faith regardless of the circumstances. As the old adage goes, “When you don’t know which way to go, always head toward Jesus.”

A Work in Progress,