Naw, this post won’t direct you to wild parties in your neighborhood! Let’s talk about another kind: deer. In 43 years of riding bikes, much in the mountains, I never gave a thought to deer crossing the road and trying to knock me off the bike. Then a year ago, in Libby MT, our group talked to a local who’d hit 23 deer. Killed 17 of them. That gave me pause. Less than a week later on the road to Eureka, a deer bolted in front of Brad on his bike with no chance to avoid a collision. After the life flight to appropriately named Mercy Medical Center in Redding, doctors tended to multiple broken ribs, a collapsed lung, a broken collar bone and shoulder blade, and a number of abrasions. He now has a plate in his shoulder with 9 screws. He still rides, but that incident got my attention.
So I was particularly cautious leaving Pagosa Springs at 5:30 in the morning with a cup of hot coffee in the cup holder. Some heat was needed with the temp dropping to 35. Deer tend to travel at that time of day, so I kept looking at the sides of the road, remembering Brad. Then a sign read, “Wildlife Detection Zone Ahead.” I had no clue what that meant. I’d seen “Deer Crossing” signs in abundance, but what is a detection zone?
A few miles later a lighted sign (like the one above) flashed, “Wildlife Detected.” I slowed, with nothing in sight. Within minutes, another sign came on, and again I slowed, looking for a deer. Nothing. Instantly, a big doe was just in front of me to my left, heading right. I missed her by no more than 10 ft., closer to 5. Without slowing for the sign, I’d have played hit and slide. For the next 50 miles I crawled through the mountains, desperately searching behind each blade of roadside grass for deer. I now fully understood what a “Wildlife Detection Zone” was all about.
Obviously, this story provides a hook for something spiritual. I’m just not sure where to take it. My first objective was to wish we had Sin Detection Zones with flashing lights to get our attention before we headed into the danger zone. Think something like Google Glasses that project a heads-up display, “Sin Detection Zone.” Wouldn’t that make following Jesus much easier?
But we have that. Yeah, this is simplistic, but we have that warning system if we choose to use it. Mark Twain had a good line, “It’s not the things in the Bible I don’t understand that bother me. What bothers me is what I understand and don’t do.”
Most of the time, we know right and wrong. Even in a postmodern era of relative ethics, most of us have a decent assessment of morality. At a minimum, we have a good clue as to what God would have us do.
So how do we best follow Jesus? First, by being sure we know the roadmap he gave us. Second, by staying on track. But frankly, the Bible is like the first sign: Sin Detection Zone ahead. That can be general when we need something more specific. Or, how can we tell when spiritual danger is close?
We can create our own Temptation Detected signs, often unique to us. Here’s what I mean. Based on our experiences, or how most of us unfortunately learn, we have a pretty good idea of our triggers, our weak areas. These may not even be sin, but with that step we typically take the next that goes beyond temptation into sin. So, rather than continuing to blast ahead full speed, we slow down. We pray. We ponder. We change our route a bit. Why? Very simply, hitting sin at full speed can bring more damage that Brad experienced.
Kick Starting the Discussion
Think first about the concept of Sin Detection Zones. How well do you know God’s directions in the Bible? I see it as God’s operation manual for life—and he knows better than we what works and what doesn’t. Not a rule book as much as a guide book, but we usually don’t have time to stop and find a verse that applies. So, what can you specifically do to better understand his guidelines?
Second, can you craft some Temptation Detected Zones, specific to you? Are you aware of your vulnerabilities and what increases their level? Are you willing to become more rigorous in staying further from sin by changing your behaviors earlier? Feel free to chime in and share how this works for you.