Preface: I am stealing this idea from my dad. He forwarded me the article and told me that he was going to do his Ash Wednesday service on this concept. I love it. So great job to my dad for coming up with the concept…I wish I could hear his sermon tomorrow – but here’s the idea…
Last September, the island of Samoa – with its 180,000 inhabitants, decided to change from an American style of driving (cars on the right) to a British style (cars on the left.) This was to make it easier for people in Australia and New Zealand to export cars into their country. How does one completely change an entire country’s driving habits?
The country widened roads. There were large media campaigns. And the country declared a two day national holiday starting the day of the switch to reduce traffic. No alcohol was sold in the country for the 3 days before, and the day prior (a Sunday) churches had organized prayers for driver’s safety. Speed limits were temporarily reduced. A few speed bumps were added. People’s minds were changed, and thus, their habits were able to change as well. This was a well thought out process.
At the appointed time, 6:00am on Monday morning, the police minister went on the radio and told all drivers to pull over wherever they were. After a few minutes, he explained how to make the switch to the other side, step-by-step, inch-by-inch, and as scores of onlookers cheered, drivers moved to the other lane.
And the first day, not a single accident occurred.
Isn’t that a little of what Lent is? As we were chatting about it, my dad said, “It’s not about changing your direction, it’s about changing your lane.”
Easter requires preparation. I have to get my mind reset. My heart. I have to declare a holiday from things in my life that clutter up my path. I’m still going in the same direction – but if changing lanes helps me better understand the miracle – the mystery – that is Easter, then I need to do whatever I can to be ready to receive. And, still moving forward, still running the race set before me, I bet the road will look a little different, and hopefully a little clearer from the other side of the road.
“Create in me a pure heart oh God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me…” Psalm 51:10 (TNIV)
For more on Samoa’s driving change: