Driving on the left side of the road

September 26, 2011 | 12 comments

I left for England last Tuesday and arrived Wednesday morning to lecture in seven different cities throughout the UK over the next 10 days.  It was going to be a fun trip, I knew.
To make transportation easier on myself and my sponsors, though, I decided to rent a car, which meant that I had to learn how to drive on the left side of the road.  That was going to be a new adventure for me!
I prayed quite a bit ahead of time to know I would stay on the “proper side of the road,” as one Brit reminded me.  Others from the US had done it successfully, I was told, so I could too, I decided.  God is always in the driver’s seat, I affirmed.
So, after my wife Kathy and I landed at the Manchester airport, I had my first opportunity to put my prayer into practice.  Out onto the M6 Motorway I drove, and Whoa! It was crowded, like rush hour traffic in the US. It wasn’t exactly how I had hoped to begin my training.  But God had me prepared, I remembered.
“Stay on the left side of the road.  Stay on the left side of the road.”  I kept mumbling to myself. It helped!  I needed the reminder.  After driving on the right side for decades, and then learning to do it oppositely takes conscious effort.
As I successfully navigated my way south to Sutton-Coldfield which is west of Birmingham, I rejoiced in staying in the correct lane, not getting honked at and keeping my composure. It took a lot of concentration on my part, though, to stay focused, and not revert into old habits that were contrary to UK rules of the road.
As I was driving, and assiduously paying attention to coursing down the proper lane, I thought about how the same diligence and attention is required in other areas of our lives when we need to make radical changes.
Perhaps, we need to break a bad habit, treat others more kindly, be less lazy, exercise more discipline, or demonstrate more faith in God. If we’re well rehearsed living one way, and need to live to the contrary, it may not be a little thing to make the switch.  It may take intense concentration, effort and diligence to be successful.
Like my driving on the left side of the road, I couldn’t take the responsibility lightly.  To succeed, I had to put in extra effort and due diligence to reverse time-honored patterns, adopt the new, and remain faithful. No exceptions! The rules of the road are unforgiving. Obedience is required.
God rules the universe with spiritual law. To receive the blessing of these laws, obedience to them is required.  There is no allowance for slackers.
So, if you need to “drive on the left side of the road today,” when you’ve been accustomed to driving on the right, fear not! You can do it. God gives you the attention, understanding, ability and concentration needed to be successful in your new effort.

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12 thoughts on “Driving on the left side of the road”

  1. Thanks for sharing your driving experience in the UK, Evan. It reminded me of my first time driving experience on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, as it appeared to me coming from the Continent. I had prayed before renting the car -but being all by myself I broke into tears at the first round-about in Manchester. I managed to switch on the warning lights praying desperately for guidance. Within no time an alert taxi driver came to my side and learning of my problem offered escort to where I needed to go, about 15 km further into the city which I gratefully accepted, of course.
    I learned from this experience that unwavering trust in Love’s ever presence is most important; it can prevent upset emotions in any situation. And this kind of trust must (and will) grow from experience and close relationship with God.

  2. Your experience brought back memories of my first trip to England. My daughter had suggested that since I would be facing the challenge of driving on the “wrong” side of the road, I should rent a car with automatic shift. As I recall, the price of an automatic vs a manual shift was about $100. Since I was on a tight budget, I figured for $100 I could certainly sift and drive. Giving all faith in my abilities to God, I had a very harmonious visit to England, Scotland and Wales driving wherever I felt led – just me and God traveling together. What a wonderful experience!

  3. Interestingly driving on the left was the original way of driving. The Romans, it is believed, needed to have their right hand free to greet or fight by being able to hold the reins in their left. It was generally deemed most people were right handed. It is a possibility that Napoleon started the ‘driving on the wrong side’ in Europe as he was left handed.

    Very interesting, as here in England we feel we are ‘right’ and anyone driving on the other side is wrong! Yet nearly 70% of the world actually drive on the ‘wrong side’!!!

    Good point about the concentration though, and though I digressed into the history, it was a way of waking us up to what’s deemed wrong and right too!

  4. … a quick return:) since I enjoyed reading all comments today including the last one giving some interesting historic insight. It is true: left-handed ‘Napoleon’s conquests spread the new rightism to the Low Countries (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg), Switzerland, Germany, Poland, Russia and many parts of Spain and Italy. The states that had resisted Napoleon kept left.’ And Britain was one of them. – Anyway, it is wonderful to be free to properly adjust one’s sense of right and wrong in and with Christian Science.

  5. I’m still driving over here! Safe and sound…

    I did have one driver honk at me yesterday. But I figure that’s pretty good considering how many other people I’ve heard get honked at, and they were probably experienced drivers! Brits know where their horn is located… LOL

    But I have to say, they are very courteous drivers for the most part.

  6. I learned something unusual from reading this. Something about my own growth in grace. In the past, I would have dismissed comments about the difficulties of driving on the “wrong” side of the road in a different country as irrelevant to my life, and even silly.

    This time, however, I was instantly able to identify with what you were going through mentally, Evan, and how you had to rely on your natural intelligence and discipline (from God!) to stay in the correct lane. In other words, I put myself in your shoes and my heart went out to you and I intuitively supported you in prayer.

    I’m grateful to recognize and report on this specific evidence of progress, the result of my more consciously reflecting our Father’s expansive and inclusive love for His every last offspring.

  7. Hmmm, since God fills all space including the whole road, right or left, it’s a joy to know that He is here gently directing us in every direction, turn, and situation. Even the salmon swimming upstream, ‘against’ the current.
    I love to think that God can also be thought about as: Guidance, Order & Direction.
    Thank you Evan for these wonderful and very insightful blogs!!

  8. When we lived in England for two years, we took our car from Canada with us, with the steering wheel on the left side of the car. At a certain point, my husband had to obtain an international driver’s license, and training for it was said, by others who had come there from North America, to be challenging ( involving skills like backing around corners) some experienced drivers were said to have failed five times! Well, even in a car with left-handed steering, my husband passed, with a little help from those friends, some driver lessons, and a good deal of prayer, and was able to navigate roundabouts and share the roadways with double-decker buses with the best of them- this post reminds me of that demonstration. Learning to live fluently in another culture, even one with a similar language, can be humbling…one often has to stop and examine one’s assumptions and preconceptions, and go out of “auto-pilot” mode to really think about why and how one is doing something. When house-hunting, I spent a good long time trying to figure out how to cross a major roadway on foot, in London, until I learned that the “subway” was an underground tunnel for pedestrians and ” the underground” or “tube” was what I thought of as a “subway” or “Light Rail Transit” ( LRT here in Edmonton, Alberta)! It is helpful to remember, before we judge others, or reject their way of doing things, that they may be dealing with transition, and may need a hand, and compassionate guided practice, to be able to let go of old habits, and fit in smoothly to a new culture, or adjust to a new way of thinking and acting. Sometimes they may still need to drive a left-handed car in a right-handed road! It is also good to be patient with ourselves, and humbly trust God’s guidance, when faced with having to navigate new territory. Thanks for this post and the interesting comments. Thanks too, for all your years as a Christian Science lecturer, Evan, and for being open to teaching and sharing in new ways on-line, as well as in your dedicated role as a Teacher of Christian Science.

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