We moved to Eastlake, a suburb of Chula Vista, two years ago. I remember because we moved on my birthday. Things are different in Eastlake from Imperial Beach. We view driving as a sport. It's dangerous, frankly, and a source of concern in my morning prayers. Driving fast and seeing how many lane changes a car can make before stopping at a red light is one competitive event; the record I've counted is ten. More and more drivers that I observe are being distracted by their phones. On the way to Saint John's today, at each of eight green lights, there was at least one car that didn't go because they were distracted by their phone. I'm sure you've experienced this -- a line of cars is waiting for the light, it turns green, some cars go and one car doesn't because the driver is not looking at the light but at their phone. Twice today the distracted car was in a left turn lane. By the time they noticed (usually from the horn sound coming from the car behind them), they hit the gas, barely made the light on the yellow and the rest of the cars had to wait through another cycle.
My suspicion about being distracted was confirmed by a recent article in Chula Vista's Star News. Officer Margarita Walker of Chula Vista's finest said that she's witnessed, “[People] talking on cell phones and texting; I’ve seen people facebooking while driving and sadly way too many selfies while driving.” Yes, that's right, people take selfies while driving. As a result, Chula Vista announced a crack down on distracted driving. Around 1,500 citations were given out last year. My morning count suggests we should be able to break that dubious record.
Sgt. Jeffrey Meeks said, “Imagine driving for four or five seconds while blindfolded. That can be the effect of looking down to send a text message. In the average time it takes to check a text message – less than five seconds – a car travelling 60 mph will travel more than the length of a football field.”
For most folks, driving is the most dangerous activity of the entire day. If we are distracted while doing that, how much more are we permitting ourselves to be distracted by lesser activities during the day.
When Jesus went to the home of Mary and Martha, Luke writes, Mary sat at Jesus' feet, a first century phrase that means she was totally focused on Jesus. Meanwhile, Martha was cleaning up in the kitchen and got angry at Jesus because he was allowing Mary to "sit at his feet." We readers know that Mary had chosen not to be distracted but to focus on Jesus and the life to which he was calling her, a more focused way of living where she would know God's presence in every moment.
In modern times, I imagine a text conversation between Martha and Jesus would go something like this.
M: Hey, Jesus
J: Hi, Martha. What’s up?
M: Is Mary with you?
M: Really, so she didn’t think I’d need help planning our next church event, and writing an article about it, or uploading photos of our trip to the website. Grrrrr…
J: Martha, are you driving?
M: Yes, Lord.
J: Pull over and then we’ll talk.
The lesson Jesus teaches Martha is to not fall into the distractions of life but instead to focus on the goodness that he brings into her life.
But then, I have always supposed that distracted driving ends with meeting Jesus sooner than expected.