A Heart Divided

I honestly don’t know what happened. I wasn’t adjusting the radio. I wasn’t fiddling with my phone. My hands were on the steering wheel at 10 and 2.

As I approached the intersection, I remember thinking, “Why are they turning?” As soon as the thought went through my mind, my car entered the intersection. And that’s when it clicked in my head; they were turning because they had a green arrow. I had just run the red light.

All afternoon I replayed it in my head. Thankfully, one of the turning drivers noticed I wasn’t stopping and he slammed on his brakes. No one was hurt, nothing was damaged, and (thankfully) no tickets were passed out.

As I went about my day—breakfast with some friends, the afternoon at work, studying for mid-terms—I couldn’t get it out of my head. I tend to think of myself as a pretty cautious driver. In some ways, I wish I’d gotten a ticket. I certainly deserved one.

The more I thought about what had happened, the less productive I became that day. Conversations with friends kept turning back towards what I’d done. Every customer I helped got jittery service as my head kept re-visiting that intersection. My homework was about as productive as pushing sand up hill. My head just wasn’t in it.

It made me think of a famous speech by Abraham Lincoln. In his acceptance speech for the presidential nomination he quoted Luke 11:17.  In the text Jesus says, “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.”

A lot of things can make us feel divided. Fear for our families, friends, and futures. Uncertainty in our government, economy, and leaders. Guilt over mistakes, failures, and running red lights. The reality is, when our hearts get divided, the world makes a little less sense.

The more I think about it, I realize I might have been a bit divided that morning in my car. While I wasn’t fiddling with anything in the car, and my eyes were solidly on the road, my mind was fiddling with a million and one projects, and my brain could not have been more distracted.

As I’ve been doing a little bible study this week, I’ve really been focused on this idea of broken hearts. I found one verse that jumped out to me. In Philippians 4:6 Paul says, “Don’t worry about anything but pray about everything. With a thankful hearts, offer up your prayers and requests to God.”

I tend to be one of those people who believes I can fix everything. There were certainly things I was wishing I could fix that morning when I got into my car. But as I replay that morning, I wonder how it could have been different. What if I’d gotten up thankful for a new day? What If I’d taken a few minutes to say “Hey God! Let’s go have an adventure today!”? What if I’d been excited for opportunities I had—time with friends, a chance to work—instead of stressing about just getting it all done?

But the reality is, I wasn’t thankful. I was angry, I was stressed, and I ran a red light.

I think sometimes we need red lights in life. We need things that remind us to stop worrying, to stop fearing, and to stop feeling guilty. Because if we focus on things that scare us and things that we can’t control, we wind up going too fast in different directions with no clue as to what is going on around us. By taking time to stop and  remember the things that matter—things like family and friends and the dawn of a new day—we can realize that our lives are held together, not by worry, but through faith, hope, and love. 

So this week, I’m trying to be a little more deliberate (and not just in my driving.) I’m trying to focus on the things I am thankful for rather than the things I can’t fix. I’m trying to spend a few minutes consciously aware of God and the great adventure he is taking with me. And I’m trying to let Him take care of the things that worry me.

As for you, I hope you too can find something in your heart to be thankful for. And if you are driving through my town this weekend…watch out!

Zach Herzog


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