Dead Skunk (Possum, Squirrel, Armadillo) in the Middle of the Road

I tend not to notice roadkill until it’s too late.

I’ll be driving merrily along, and I’ll feel that little bump from running over something that’s already dead.

If my Good Wife is a passenger in the car I’m driving, she’ll cringe when I run over a dead animal. Kindly and gently, she’ll say, “I started to tell you it was in the road, but I figured you’d see it.”

This has happened many times. You’d think that by now, she’d realize her figuring is off.

Actually, I think she has figured it out. The last time it happened, she observed, “I think you’re good at noticing what’s way up ahead, but not so good at seeing what’s right in front of you.”

I think she’s right. (Just in case she reads this, let me add that she’s always right.)

Now, to be fair to me, let me note that I do notice and avoid large roadkill, such as a deer. I’m also pretty good at not hitting live animals.

Still, this strikes me as a good metaphor for the different ways people approach life. Some of us focus on what’s way down the road, while others of us focus on what’s right in front of us.

For example, some Christians are so heavenly minded, they’re no earthly good. On the other hand, some are so focused on here and now, they fail to consider eternity.

Some Americans are so focused on immediate gratification, they forget to consider long-term stability. On the other hand, some are so focused on having enough in their retirement years, they don’t have much fun now.

Some politicians are so focused on what’s good for them in next week’s poll or in next year’s election, they fail to consider what’s best for future generations. On the other hand, some are so focused on future generations that they—well, I actually can’t think of any politicians who are so intent on looking down the road that they fail to consider their own immediate prospects. If you know of any, please let me know.

My point is that we all need to have a balanced way of looking at things. We need to pay attention to what’s happening here and now. We need to be aware of what’s happening right in front of us. But we also need to pay attention to what’s way down the road.

Christians need to lay up treasure in heaven while also working to make life less hellish for those who are suffering, who are oppressed, and who are rejected.

We all need to save as best we can for retirement while also living as full a life as we can right now.

Our political leaders need always to be thinking about the long-term implications of their policies and programs while also considering the effect they’ll have on people today.

None of this is easy, but it’s what comes with being responsible adult human beings.

The road we’re on simultaneously sits right in front of us and stretches way ahead of us.

Wise people will keep their eyes on all of it.

Michael Ruffin is husband to Debra, father to Joshua (Michelle) and Sara (Benjamin), grandfather to Sullivan and Isabella. A graduate of Mercer University and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he has previously served as a pastor and as a university professor. He lives on the Ruffin Family Farm in Yatesville, Georgia. He is the Connections Series Curriculum Editor. He blogs at On the Jericho Road.

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