What Does the Passing Lane Have To Do With the Land of Canaan?

Canaan and passing laneIf you’re anything like me, minor irritation lurks everywhere. The smallest things often get the biggest reactions. It’s the little things that drive me batty! But the big question is: does it matter?

In doing research for my novel I purchased ‘Manners and Customs in the Bible – An Illustrated Guide to Daily Life in Bible Times’ published in 1988 and revised in 1991. The author, Victor Matthews, is a Professor of Religious Studies at Southwest Missouri State University. The book is written in easy to understand layman terms. In the preface, the author said, “I tried to answer in a readable and informative way the sort of questions I have heard from my students.”

It’s true. I love the book and am finding many useful tidbits that will enhance the reality of my fiction story. However…

No long ago I evacuated my south Florida home due to Hurricane Irma. (Having lived through the worst of Hurricane Andrew in ’92, I’ve come to realize that it left deep emotional scars. I just can’t bring myself to ‘ride out’ another storm.) On the trek to Jacksonville and back, one of my pet peeves rose and got the better of me – I hate slow, inconsiderate drivers who refuse to vacate the passing lane under any circumstances. The more of them I find on the road, the more aggressively I drive. It seems the only way to avoid these people is to sail along I95 in the slower lane. There’s seldom anyone there!

So while I’m reading this wonderful, easy-to-read, informative book, I find myself getting more and more perturbed. The author, a Professor who “teaches Old Testament, Ancient Near Eastern and Biblical Law, and Daily Life in Bible Times”, with a “Ph.D. in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies”, keeps referring to the ancient land of Israel as ‘Palestine’. You would think that an educated historian when speaking of biblical times – especially the period of the Patriarchs – would refer to the area as Canaan, wouldn’t you? After all, it wasn’t until the turn of the common era that Rome renamed the land ‘Palestine’.

Given his validation of the Word of God as true, I’m sure he doesn’t mean any harm. Yet I can’t help but think about the lady driving a silver car who was quite confused as car after car rode her bumper then passed utterly frustrated. Or the green-Ford-truck-driver who kept waving me to go around him, which was impossible since he was in the passing lane doing the same speed as the car next to him in the travel lane. Or the guy who flipped me the bird as the traffic in the travel lane cleared enough for me to zoom out from behind him. Or the couple chatting away, oblivious to the line of cars behind them. Or…never mind. You get the drift.

So as I had to do on the way back home a few weeks ago, zipping along in the slow lane, ignoring the slow pokes in the travel and passing lanes, I guess I’ll have to ignore the word ‘Palestine’ and mentally insert ‘Canaan’ or ‘Israel’ where appropriate.

I know what you’re thinking, “Come on, Ro, does it really matter?”

I think it does. Oh sure, I could continue my mental exercise. I could continue to drive in the slow lane leaving the passing lane to slower drivers, but what does that solve? When we accept illegitimate behavior or ideas repetitiously, we come to accept it as the norm – in some cases re-writing history to suit our own learned behavior and beliefs. When we don’t learn from our mistakes, we are doomed to repeat them. We need to look no further than our society today to see mankind spiraling out of control.

Having just spent a day in prayer and fasting, reviewing the last year, searching for where I failed God and where I succeeded, I found that the little things add up to either a strengthening of faith or a hardened heart not willing to even listen to the still small voice calling for obedience, let alone to actually obey the Creator of the Universe.

Yep, it matters. Just as the drivers I encountered progressed from puzzled confusion to waving me to go around to flipping me the bird even though he was in the wrong, or calling a land by a name that would not be instituted for several millennia, our society continues on a downward spiral away from the truth and closer to following whatever seems right in our own eyes.

God help us, it matters.

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