Spiritual Lessons From a Slow-Speed Car Chase
When Joe Gonzales led police on a two-hour chase, he probably didn’t realize his actions would be a helpful illustration of a much bigger spiritual problem.
When your two-hour commute ends with an armored SWAT vehicle ramming your car into the median of a major highway while half a dozen police vehicles follow in hot pursuit, it might be time to evaluate some of your life choices.
I don’t know. Maybe that’s just me.
What I do know is this: A few of us here in the Life, Hope & Truth office were intently focused on Joe Gonzales’ “slow-speed chase” last week. We had the live news chopper feed playing on our monitors while a 42-year-old ex-convict led increasing numbers of police vehicles on a leisurely two-hour drive through downtown traffic lights, parking lots and highway exit ramps.
It started at a roadside inspection during a narcotics surveillance operation. Gonzales, initially a passenger in a white sedan suspected of carrying methamphetamines, hopped into the driver’s seat and took off. Pursuit policy forbids police officers from passing and blocking a vehicle due to the dangers of having an officer’s back to a potentially armed and unpredictable driver, so Gonzales was free to poke along at frustratingly slow speeds while a fleet of police cars followed behind and called for him to pull over and stop.
Eventually, though, enough was enough. Gonzales took to the highway and began picking up speed, at which point a Fort Worth, Texas, SWAT vehicle used a well-timed PIT maneuver to force his car into the concrete median of I-30.
He had a chance to pull over. That’s what kills me. He had a hundred chances to pull over, but he didn’t. That chase did not have to end with a swarm of police officers forcefully dragging him out of his backseat window. It didn’t have to end with a high-speed wipeout on the highway.
But it did have to end. That’s the part Gonzales didn’t seem to understand. From the second he chose to drive away from the police, he was setting something in motion—and one way or another, it was going to end.
Not yet complete
In the book of Genesis, God makes an interesting comment during His promises to Abraham. Abraham had just been given a tour of the land God promised to his descendants—“from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates—the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites” (Genesis 15:18-21). Collectively, this territory became known as the Promised Land—the land of Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3:8).
What’s interesting is that Abraham himself was not going to inherit this land. It was certainly within God’s ability and authority to empty out the land of Canaan and hand over the keys to Abraham, but He chose to wait. God told Abraham that in the fourth generation his descendants “shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete” (Genesis 15:16).
“Not yet complete.” What a curious phrase! The implication seems to be that, while the Amorites and surrounding nations were heavily steeped in sin, God was still giving them time to alter their course. Their iniquity was not yet complete. The sins of the Amorites didn’t have to end in a worst-case scenario, but they did have to end.
If you’re familiar with the Old Testament, you know that the Amorites and the rest of Canaan never pulled over. Like Joe Gonzales this past week, they decided that the best course of action was to continue plodding forward, ignoring the warning signs in their rearview mirrors. The police gave Gonzales roughly two hours to pull over; God gave the Amorites roughly four centuries.
We all have moments, no matter how dedicated we are to God’s perfect way of life, when we stray from our Creator—when He comes to address an issue with us and, in response, we panic and run.Lessons for us
There are lessons here—not just for Joe Gonzales, not just for the Amorites, but for each and every one of us. We all have moments, no matter how dedicated we are to God’s perfect way of life, when we stray from our Creator—when He comes to address an issue with us and, in response, we panic and run.
God is patient, but He is not a pushover. He gives us every opportunity to correct our course, pull over, repent, accept the consequences of our actions and start changing. But if we continually reject those opportunities, we leave Him with no choice but to send out the spiritual equivalent of a SWAT vehicle and bring our rebellion to an end.
Sin doesn’t end well. When we couple our own genuine repentance with the sacrifice of Christ, our sins don’t have to end in the worst-case scenario—but they do have to end. Running, for all the ground we might cover, doesn’t really get us anywhere. It just makes the situation worse and takes us farther and farther from true, life-altering change.
It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from or what kind of life you’re living—people like Joe and the Amorites ought to prompt us to do some self-evaluation.
Are you running from God?
If you are, then maybe it’s time to pull over.
Our booklet Change Your Life! can help.