“ Ya know something I learned about driving in St. Louis is that people tend to make a U-Turn wherever the hell they want!” My friend Murray and I had recently moved to St. Louis and after living here for about two years we are beginning to fit into the fast-paced culture or maybe it’s more like the culture is beginning to fit into us.
The first complaint that anyone ever has about St. Louis is often the driving. Driving in St. Louis requires super heroics. It’s safe to say that in The Lou, when you enter your vehicle and hit the road you decrease your chances of survival by about 50 percent. As I mentioned earlier the Lou is fast-paced and residents of the Show me state, don’t mind well showing you. Road laws, stop lights, traffic signs, and the hovering risk of vehicular fatalities do not stop St. Louians from aggressively passing slow drivers, running red lights (happens a lot in the city), and making U-turns whenever and wherever they want. A few weeks ago my friend Daniel came to visit us in The Lou.
While we all together we decided to hit up one of my favorite Mexican restaurants dubbed Mission Taco in Central West End. Most would say that Central West End is a fairly refined part of The Lou. However, the incurable plague of terrible St. Louis driving is no respecter of person or place.
So, as we finished eating, got back in Murray’s car, and drove away we realized we were going the wrong direction. So what did we do? We made a U-turn, and not the clean one spin of the steering wheel.Ya know, the smooth kind where drive off after your about-face after managing to unscathe your car on the sidewalk or road shoulder as you turned and acted as if nothing happened kinda U-turn. No, it was definitely the turn around where you realize you have no more room to turn so you have to back up a little with cars coming from the opposite direction now directly glaring down at you with their headlights and driver eyes glaring from behind dark windshields as they express their pious disapproval of your miscalculation with long exasperated honks.
If Jesus was around in the flesh today and drove a vehicle in St. Louis, I feel like one of His mantras would be: “He who is without sin deliver the first honk.” I say this because all too often drivers in St. Louis get upset with you about things they do as well on the road. So our captain Murray Nickel of the 2006 Volkswagen Passat and his crew continued to venture where many have ventured before.
We made our U-turn and warp speeded away from the furious honking of vehicular ships now in our rearview. As we continued up the street we noticed another car on a cross street making an even crazier U-turn then we just did. We began to laugh as it wasn’t about 30 seconds ago that Murray had said, “Ya know something I learned about driving in St. Louis is that people make U-Turns wherever the hell they want!” So as the banter and comments continued we decided to start naming the U-turn phenomena.
All of us began taking stabs at witty slogans like the St. Louis U-turn, the St. Lou U, and unanimously we blurted out The St. Loui Uee! And just like that, we coined the phrase that I now also use as a token of God’s grace. You see the idea of making a U-turn wherever you want to spark a thought in me. Does not grace work that way?
In grace, it’s never too late to turn around. There’s no street too narrow or encumbered with too much traffic where drivers honk at you for having to change directions. On top of that when we are going the wrong direction God wants us to turn around because the direction we may be going is away from his ultimate purpose for us.
Take Saul for example, who was on his way to Damascus to murder Christians when God appeared to him on the road, blinded him and had him do a St. Louie Uee that took him too straight street where his sight was restored, he was renamed, and repurposed for the God’s Kingdom as Paul, writer of more than half the new testament and contender of the faith. In the thought of our lives relative to a relationship with Christ we are often given opportunities to make St. Louie Uee’s. To change the direction of our choices, or to even start a relationship with Christ if we don’t have one already. We can never traverse too far down the road of our sin where God does not allow us to turn around.
The word says “if my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2nd Chronicles 7:24
The Hebrew word for turn in this verse is “shub”. In short definition it a verb that means to return. In lay terms, return means we had to have been originally going in one direction, occupying one place, left and now we are headed in headed somewhere else, but now we decide or go back our original destination or direction. Therein lies the St. Louie Uee of grace. God is waiting for us to align with his purpose all we have to do change the direction we are going. That is true repentance, to turn away and turn to God.