- Sonya Leigh Anderson
I’ve recently become a commuter. Just about two months ago my husband and I moved our family from the suburb we called home for over twenty-three years, and relocated to a small town about thirty minutes north. Four days a week I drive back to my old stomping grounds where I work at a church. Mondays Kyle and I drive together south of the metro where he has an office, and I spend a day on a college campus working on a writing project. The commute is horrendous, solid hour, usually longer, stop-and-go traffic, and if it weren’t for the somewhat romantic perk of the very long car date (we’re still enjoying the thrill of a newly empty nest)—it would be unbearable. We reward ourselves on the way home with a stop at a Mexican restaurant for Taco Monday.
It’s not bad. The commuting, that is. I might even say I’m enjoying it. Thursday evening, for example. I’d left church, met a friend for a walk and a coffee, ran a few errands, stopped by Felipe’s to drop off food. The weather was sunny and crisp, first days of fall; but I’d noticed, mid-walk, one dark cloud, out in the distance. Sure enough, on my way back to the car after dropping off groceries, the rain started coming. Rain plops. I remember one of the boys, a toddler, saying it this way.
Errands completed, I prepared for the drive back home. Attaching iPhone to Aux cord, I opened Spotify, GOAT Worship. (Nils regularly updates his mom’s favorite playlist, true to its acronym: greatest of all time.) All set for hand-free driving, I backed down the driveway, wipers on, making a smear of rain plops and commuter bugs, heading due east. Which is when I noticed. Brilliant orb of red sun, massive, setting in rearview mirror, and sky ahead, striped in rainbow. Clouds lit up, glowing, artist rendered. And I’m in awe. Driving slowly, reluctant to turn onto north bound route, I acknowledge Creator, gasping my thanks.
We’d talked of rainbows, Monday, college class and me writing Bible curriculum. The ancient story of ark and water, covenant promise, wondering questions. Young adults, Christians, familiar with scripture. One wicked world; one righteous man. God washing. Starting over.
But this time, reading, something else grabbed my attention. One little word I’d missed before, or maybe didn’t think was that important.
Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.
So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them.”
Stay with me now, while I make this connection.
A month now, maybe more, I’ve been listening to sermons on my weekday commutes. The same son providing the playlist, provides his mom with this recommendation. A pastor, out in Portland—two years of sermons from Matthew’s Gospel, and I’m half way through in a matter of weeks. Recently, coming to a series of interview podcasts on non-violence.
This same subject the crux of another son’s wrestling. Grappling with scripture. Blogging his questions. What do we do with so much violence? For some time now, mother and son engaging conversations, reading books together. Me, his mom—five decades believing, and never wondering—if there just might be a better way to read it.
And then, lately, this encounter with Jesus.
The mission of Jesus, and I’m seeing the story through a different lens.
The same Monday I’m discussing the Noah story with college students, Kyle and I spend our morning commute discussing a podcast, wrestling with this sticky subject. I’m idealistic, and he’s pragmatic, but both of us willing to think outside the old box and ask some new questions. And it strikes me then, and I can’t stop wondering. How 2000 years ago the religious people expected their Messiah to arrive on the scene bearing a sword, and instead he died.
And I’m seeing the sunset in my rearview mirror, rainbow in the clouds ahead—and I’m thinking about Jesus on my daily commute.
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” John 18:36