Last weekend, Daniel and I had the joy of driving north to visit my family for the weekend. We like to escape to the country on occasion, far from the smog and traffic of the city. It may lack readily available Starbucks locations, but it grants us a sense of peace and calm that’s hard to find within Seattle.
Saturday night, we were driving on a busy country road shortly after dusk, and a deer darted out in front of our car. I had noticed something running from the right side of the road, on a collision course with the front of my car. Slamming on the breaks (thank God for ABS), we narrowly avoided adding a new hood ornament to our Ford Focus. At first, I’d thought it was a drunken teenager wearing a tan Carhartt jacket (something more common than deer in those parts). However, I changed my mind, once I got a good look at the animal, since it was staring blankly at the car, mesmerized by our headlights. I didn’t fully understand meaning of the phrase “like a deer in the headlights” until that night.
It was a beautiful young doe or buck, spry and lithe. Cars went by on either side of us, but it was unfazed in its staredown with our car. My car was rendered motionless, as I waited for one of us to make a move.
Looking into its wide, reflective eyes, I sympathized with its moment of paralysis. I saw myself standing there in its place, staring at impending disaster, indecisive about what to do. Do you go to the right or to the left? Which way is best? How do you know? Like a deer caught in the headlights, I’m frequently paralyzed by indecision.
As much as I was enjoying this moment of reflection and nature watching, I couldn’t let the staredown go on forever. I needed to force the deer to make a decision, or I had to make one myself. With cars zooming by, unaware of what was happening before us, I decided it was unwise to prompt the deer to leap away and endanger someone else. When the coast was clear, and no cars were in sight, I broke the connection and honked my horn. The deer was startled from its reverie, and it scampered back in the direction from which it came. I watched it disappear to the other side of the road, and we continued to drive along our merry way.
I continue to struggle with indecision, but I am comforted that God provides means for us to avoid staring into the headlights. He promises that his Spirit will guide us: “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21). It’s seldom the loud blare of a car horn, but his still, small voice will lead us, if we quiet ourselves enough to listen for it. God also provides his Word as council about which way to take: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105). When we are so easily blinded by other lights, trust God’s light to guide you along the right path.