In my mother’s later years, when she was legally blind, she settled into telling us stories of her youth in the 1920s. When her first grandchild got his driver’s license, she shared how at eleven years old, she would drive her father, a pharmacist, to work in downtown San Antonio in their family Model T. Driver’s licenses were not required till 1936 in Texas. The only test for permission to drive was the answer to the question, “can you drive?”

As an English and Drama major from Baylor, my mom painted vivid word pictures for us. I remember one tale in particular about her and my grandmother taking road trips from San Antonio to Dallas to visit family. These excursions were all day affairs, from sun-up to sun-down, punctuated by picnic basket intermissions enjoyed under a pecan or oak tree by the side of the road. She said that once they left town, they would bump the car over into the well-worn wheel ruts of the main thoroughfare and keep going. “What about oncoming traffic?” I asked. She chuckled her answer, remembering how they would bump off to the side of the road, let a car pass, and bump back into the rutted tracks. That vignette of her and my grandmother following the deep indented, often-travelled path to Dallas has stuck with me.

Read Psalms 25: 1-10. The writer pleads fervently in his prayer to be shown God’s path, His guidance, and His well-worn truths. However, in order to recognize these rutted paths, I must first bump over the hurdles of my arrogant, presumptuous, sacerdotal “rightness,” and proceed in humility (v. 9).

Often, in these days of political angst and pandemic, I feel like our community driven faith has deteriorated into a competitive sport dueling over who can be the most “right.” Opponents taunt each other with fanaticism. The cheer sounds like this: “I’m for dedicated, faithful, enlightened, and spiritual than you are!” The winner succumbs to the malicious joy of the “other” losing. This competitive sport is ripping families apart and we’re left mired in a confusing, residual, and defeatist sediment.

I long to be on a path directed by divine guidance. I ask myself, “am I guilty of perfidious tribalism, or do I instead widen my sympathies?”

God’s promise is that we won’t be settled and stuck in our confusion if we humbly seek His ways. I cannot trust in my own craftiness and defensive mental gymnastics. But instead, with a humble heart, I can allow tough times to widen my wingspan and sympathetically include others.

“Show me your ways O Lord; teach me your paths” (v.4). The paths of God are often mysteriously confounding, dizzyingly circuitous, and painstakingly tough, but they lead to peace. I don’t want to travel on a bumpy road, constantly hampered by my own sense of “rightness.” My prideful pesuppositions and perfectionistic idolatry only lead to disastrous destinations. I instead yearn to follow all of God’s well-worn paths, driving in his trenches full of mercy and truth.

Teach me O Lord to get out of my own way and into your paths of truth and mercy. Help me to recognize your deeply indented road tracks so that I can arrive at your intended destination for me.

How has my idolatrous desire to be “right” detoured me?

Unto thee, O Lord my God, I lift up my heart. Make thy paths known to me, O Lord; teach me thy ways. Lead me in thy truth and teach me. He guides the humble man in doing right.

Psalms 25: 1, 4-5, 9

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