When Joe and I first got married, he was always the one in the driver’s seat. I enjoyed being the passenger and not having to worry about which street to turn on or what exit to take. I’m not sure if he fully trusted my driving back then. But, as we had been married longer, he started turning over some of my driving responsibilities.
I didn’t want to drive, but he would say that he was getting sleepy, so I needed to take over. Since no one wants to be in a car with a sleepy driver, I would grudgingly get behind the wheel. He would nap for 30 minutes or so, and when he woke up, he would play on his phone and want me to continue driving. But that didn’t mean that HE wanted to give up complete control.
One of his pet peeves is that I travel too close to the car in front of me. Whether we’re traveling on the interstate or going 5 miles an hour stuck in traffic, it doesn’t matter. Ever so often, he looks up from his phone and says, “You need to put more distance between you and the car in front of you.” (Insert my eye roll here)
I have pointed out numerous times that I’ve never hit a car in the rear and that driving while he is sleeping is fine. Nothing seems to stop him from telling me to “back off” multiple times while we go down the road.
I’m not an aggressive driver, and I don’t drive too close, but when you aren’t in charge of what is happening around you, you try to grab control any way you can. My car now has a smart cruise control that I can set, and it will keep a set distance between me and the car in front of me. I may have the speed set at 55, but if the vehicle in front of me is going 50, the car will slow me down to match his speed, so we stay the same distance apart.
Having a distance between me and the car in front of me is smart. It gives me more time to react to any issue that might happen. But keeping things at a distance isn’t always the best thing to do. When my kids were little, they were never allowed to go outside a set area we had in the yard. And when the grandchildren are around, I’ve always got ahold of their hands (even if they protest) because I know that having too much distance between us can cause issues.
In Matthew 26:47-74, you can read about the betrayal of Jesus by Judas and how Peter (according to John 18:10-11) cut off the ear of a servant of the high priest who was there to arrest Jesus. Jesus had already told the disciples what was to come, but they might have hoped that it wouldn’t happen because Jesus had the power to stop the crucifixion.
57 Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. 58 But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.
Jesus healed the man’s ear and went with them peacefully. In all the times I’ve read those couple of verses, I never thought about the “distance” that Peter put between himself and the Lord. I was too caught up in the fact that he had fought for Jesus and was now following behind Him.
The amount of distance Peter put between himself and Jesus allowed Him to “see” Jesus but not be “with” Jesus. Later in the story, Peter even sits by the fire with the people who are there to crucify Jesus and denies that he even knows Jesus when he is recognized.
I’ve often wondered about Peter choosing to sit at the fire with the enemy. Was he trying to overhear a plan so he could thwart it, or was he just that cold? There is an old saying about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer. But you have to be careful that some of their ways don’t jump off on you like fleas on a dog.
59 And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.
Did the distance that Peter put between himself and the Lord have anything to do with him denying knowing Jesus three times? Jesus had already told Peter this would happen, but Peter was sure that he would never betray Jesus because he loved Him so much. But, when Jesus turned and looked at him after the rooster crowed, Peter remembered Jesus’ words and was ashamed.
Distance can be great if you’re traveling in a car, but putting distance between you and the Lord can lead to disappointment, shame, and many tears. When Jesus looked at Peter, I don’t think it was a look that said, “I told you so.” I think Jesus looked at him with sympathy and forgiveness, and it was a look that said, “I still love you.”
If the distance between you and Jesus has been too great, ask for forgiveness and put your foot on the gas. He is quick to forget and forgive and always has open arms.