James exhorts, “Above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. Your ‘yes’ must be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ must be ‘no,’ so that you won’t fall under judgment.”
Yesterday, on the interstate driving to pick up my daughter from an international airport, a man dangerously cut me off as I was changing lanes at 65 to 70 mph. I am ashamed to say, in my moment of terror I was angry at him. He must have known by my gesture how angry I felt, because he suddenly put on his brakes and moved his car in my direction. Sensing immediate danger, I pulled around the right side of the truck I had been attempting to pass legally on the left. The car continued to follow me. I thought I saw a police officer on a motorcycle on the exit ramp, so I got off the interstate. The car continued to follow me. By this time, I was fearful and very ashamed of myself for losing my temper. A bout of ‘road rage’ had struck, and I was afraid was now about to backfire on me.
As I came up the ramp I realized the motorcyclist was not a police officer. The red light caught me; the car pulled up beside me in the other turning lane. I quickly glanced at the driver. An African American gentleman was sitting behind the wheel screaming at me. I looked away. I never looked back at him. He continued to call me names — names used by racists. I smiled to myself even as I grew more and more afraid. I got out my cell phone and tried to dial the highway patrol to no avail. So, I called 9-1-1. All through this, the man continued to scream obscenities at me and once he threw something at my window. That ‘plink’ on the glass startled me, but I still did not look at the man. As the light turned green, he sped away from me as I followed him back onto the interstate. I let him pull away while I spoke to the dispatcher at 9-1-1.
She asked me all sorts of questions, but the important one — what caused him to behave that way? — was the only one I didn’t answer truthfully. I told her I was carrying a gun, but that I didn’t pull it out of my glove compartment. I told her the man was very angry and kept yelling at me, that he threw a rock or some item from his car at my car. Did he damage your car? No, m’am. Can you see him now? Yes, m’am. Her questions continued for quite awhile; this is not common in my area of the country. Usually, the dispatcher listens and then closes the conversation rather quickly. This woman kept asking me about the incident, seemingly trying to locate the man in the car along the interstate. I began to drive into a rainstorm and ended the 9-1-1 call so that I would not have an accident.
I kept driving. Only later did I cry, realizing how evil (and stupid!) I’d been and how blessed I’d been almost at the same time.
“Therefore, confess your sins one to the other and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)