Right-hand driving car

President’s Travelogue: Devon, England

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Jay Smith, YTI President and Bridger Professor of Theology & Ethics

March 6, 2017

Driving in the left lane in a right land world

On this trip to England, I rented a car. I had promised myself when I first started travelling to England for my postgraduate research studies that I would never rent a car here because it always felt like when in a car, we were in a dogfight with other vehicles whizzing around the motorways. The bus and the train feel so much safer! Nevertheless, I proceeded to rent a car in order to travel to the rural countryside of Devon. It is a small car, smaller than I had hoped, but not as small as it could have been. Although the right-hand drive is a bit disorienting at first, over time it begins to feel normal. I have had a few interesting moments behind the wheel, but nothing too traumatic. My big test is today, when I return the car to Hertz. I thought my PhD comps were tough, but not compared to driving regularly on the wrong side of the road.

Life in the right lane

As I have reflected upon Lent the last few days, I realize that this is the narrative of the Christian life. Life in our world is lived in the right-hand lane. Everyone is moving quickly down the roadways of society and culture, trying to get ahead of the traffic, avoid collisions, and make it to his or her destination. Driving on the right is not only normal, it is part of our genetic structure. Why, everyone drives on the right, don’t they? If they don’t, we reason, they should, and until they do, they are an anomaly – abnormal and possibly even a threat!

The Christian life is lived in the left lane

The Christian life, however, is lived on the left side of the road. It is not an easy journey for those accustomed to the right-hand side of the road. If done correctly, it is a bit disorienting at first, but as the driver becomes accustomed to the changes, the left side of the road becomes home. The left-side of the road goes against right-road thinking in the same way that the Christian life goes against the grain of our world. The vehicle that travels on the left side of the road is more fuel efficient, quicker and maneuverable than those that travel the right side. The person that follows Jesus is part of a revolutionary counterculture: a culture designed to challenge right side thinking and bring our world to a different destination. Fueled by the Holy Spirit, and guided by the GPS of Christ, Christians can take joy in driving on the left side of the road.