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Some of my stories are published in:
A Cup of Comfort Devotional for Mothers and Daughters (Adams Media, 2009)
Chicken Soup: What I Learned from the Dog (2009)
Love is a Flame (Bethany House, 2010)
Extraordinary answers to Prayer (Guideposts, 2010)
Love is a Verb (Bethany House, 2011)
Big Dreams from Small Spaces (Group Publishing, 2012)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

How to be Like God

I was driving home at night from choir practice last week. I passed a slow-moving vehicle --there were just the two of us -- in the canyon going up to Estes Park. I wasn't speeding and I gave the guy plenty of room when I moved back over into our lane. Nevertheless, the driver sped up, turned on his brights and followed me closely. How rude. . . and creepy. I speeded up. My car has a lot of accelerating power, and soon I'd created a nice big lead. I checked my rear-view mirror a couple of times. Good, the guy wasn't even visible.

After a mile or two, a dim light in the rear-view mirror made my heart jump. There he was again. He started to gain on me. I accelerated again. But this time, the guy was rapidly gaining on me.
I've had this kind of thing happen a couple of times before, especially when we lived in SO CAL: you know, drunk or crazy people trying to give you a hard time because you're on the road the same time they are.
Was this going to be some kind of road-rage thing? He kept gaining on me.
I panicked and drove faster. Doing 75.
Still gaining.

When I got to Pinewood, I put on my blinkers and turned onto a dirt road. There! The guy will continue up the canyon and I can pull onto the road again after he's gone.
But no! He pulled onto the dirt road and parked behind me.
Oh, my Lord. This guy is going to get me!
My heart was thumping, my mouth was dry. Headlines from an imaginary newspaper shot into my mind's eye: "Grandmother found shot to death in her Highlander Hybrid."
Then I saw the flashing lights.
I did't know whether to feel relief, dread, or exasperation.

I turned off the motor but turned on the overhead cab lights so the officer would be able to see that I wasn't waiting with a gun. I grabbed my purse, while mumbling some words, pulled out my license, then hunted in the glove compartment for my registration and proof of insurance.
"Good evening." The deputy said with a cordial tone  as he approached my open window.
"I know, I know," I moaned in my overly-operatic voice. My eyebrows slanted severely and the corners of my mouth dipped like the "tragedy" mask from Greek theater. I couldn't have appeared more dramatic if I'd pounded my chest and exclaimed, "Mama Mia!"
"I was speeding,"  I confessed,  "and I deserve a ticket. But would you please let me explain why I was driving so fast?"
I handed him my license and continued to frantically rifle through all the annoying, non-essential papers that I'd retrieved from the glove compartment. Somewhere in this mess were the two little slips of paper I desperately needed.
"You see, there was this car. . . "
I told him the whole story.
"And that's why, when I saw your car, I thought it was the same guy, and when you pulled over behind me I thought I was a goner."
The deputy probably had a hard time keeping a straight face. "Well, I could tell something was wrong. I was driving over 75 and I still couldn't catch up with you."
"I really thought you were some crazy guy."
The deputy probably thought I was a crazy, overly paranoid, little old lady.
But he said, "Look, it's late, and I'm tired and all I want to do is go home. I'm not going to give you a ticket, just a warning. Now, just drive a little slower and try not to hit any deer that might jump out onto the road. Okay?"
"Okay. Thanks."

He handed me back my license and gave me his business card.
My hands trembled slightly as I started the car and pulled forward. It was a very dark night and I could hardly see where I was going.
All of a sudden, I heard the "woop, woop" of the deputy's SUV. What is it now? I lowered my window. "Yes?"
"Dena, turn on your lights!"
ARRGH!  I'll bet the deputy gets a good laugh tomorrow when he tells my story to his associates.
Then he followed me all the way up the canyon. The emotions I felt as I drove reminded me of how I used to feel when I auditioned in front of a panel of judges for some musical role. I negotiated each curve with the utmost skill, fervently looked for speed limit signs and obeyed them to the exact tenth of a mile. I avoided the fog lines and my tires never even so much as breathed on the solid double lines in the center of the road.

Last night, I drove back up the canyon again after choir practice. I let other cars pass me. I set my cruise control at 45 mph and watched for the deputy's car.
God bless you, Deputy Menger. You showed a lot of grace to a little old lady, driving alone on a dark and sometimes hazardous stretch of road. You could have intimidated me, lectured me, thrown your power around. But you didn't. You possessed the wisdom and discernment to know it wasn't necessary.
You made your point, gently, and with a little bit of humor.
You, sir, acted like God.


  1. Absolutely wonderful Dena..When I was a Deputy I came across numerous situations like this.
    Thank Him the Deputy was there. We really are there to make you feel safe. frank

  2. I have tremendous respect for policeman, Frank. They put their life on the line each day, not knowing what to expect when they walk up to a car. Most of us do not stop to consider the horrible things they have to face in the line of duty: tragic car accidents, domestic abuse, child abuse, dangerous criminals. God bless' em!

  3. Hi Dena -

    How frightening to think someone is following you! I'm glad the officer was so kind.

    BTW - you sure don't fit the description of "little old lady."

    Susan :)

  4. I too would have been scared if that happened to me. So glad that you were being watched over by the deputy and God.
    I loved the last line of this post.

  5. Thanks, Susan. Without my makeup I feel like a little old lady!

  6. Diane,I once got stalked and nearly driven off the road by some crazy guy one late night in New York as I drove home from a church event. I was by myself and it was when we didn't have cell phones yet. So now I'm extra cautious. God does indeed watch over us!

  7. Deputy Menger most certainly had mercy on you. It must have been because you're such a nice woman. Cops are never that nice to me! :-)

  8. Ron, I usually cry, and then they don't have the heart to give me a ticket.But those are real tears! I'll bet you don't cry, though.