For the very American Klines, going to Australia was like going to Mars. Our first day was an attempt to buy size 13 flip flops. When we discovered that flip flops was not part of the Australian vocabulary, we dug out words we shared with them to describe what we were shopping for–beach, footwear, rubber . . . . Suddenly, the salesperson lit up in understanding, pointed to our 6-ft, 270-pound son, and yelled to the other side of the store Do we have thongs in his size?
That was the first of many amusing oddities we discovered in Aussie-speak and Aussie-culture. Even their map was different; it was splattered with teacup icons that covered intersections and swallowed towns! So the superior American Klines poked fun at the Australian map–Looks like we take the road below the rim of the next saucer, one Kline said and the other Klines laughed.
Road signs were graphic and detailed too, insulting our intelligence and giving us more reason to ridicule the Australians.
Our favorite was Beware of Vehicles. What’s a vehicle doing on the road? Call the cops! It’s going to assault us, one Kline said and the other Klines laughed.
Besides the road signs giant billboards promoted safety with slogans like:
- A microsleep can kill in a second.
- How fast are you going now?
- Fatigue will kill; take a break.
- Double the fines; double the demerits.
- Safe speeding, There’s no such thing.
This was merely more entertainment material to the sarcastic, need-no-advice-from-the–rest-of-the-world Klines. If we have an accident, it’ll be when we take our eyes of the road to read these billboards! one Kline said and the other Klines laughed.
We were having a wonderful time at the expense of the Aussies, when another unfamiliar, un-American sign by an exit caught our attention: Driver Reviver. It also sported the teacup icon on our map. Plus the word “free” on the sign was enough reason for the free-loading Klines to take the exit. Driver Reviver was a serene park where friendly volunteers offered travelers free coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or water with bikkies (Spelt with two k’s and called cookies in the US; not to be confused with bikies, with one k, who are people on motorbikes.) Between trees hung banners that said Stop Revive Survive.
For a sober moment, the rude, make-fun-of-everything Klines reflected on Australia’s Driver Reviver program and imagined the difference such a program would make in the United States where approximately 50,000 people die in car accidents each year and where that number increases by 4% increase each year (Yet the US Department of Transportation allocates only 1% of its budget for traffic safety programs!)
Australia’s goal is to reduce the number of people killed in car crashes. Started in the early 80’s, this initiative brought car accident fatalities down by 33% in the first 10 years. Programs like Driver Reviver are complemented by heavy penalties. For example, during the holidays violators receive double fines and double demerits (negative points against the driver’s license). A local newspaper article told of a man who was speeding and refused to stop for the police. Even though the incident did not result in death or property damage, the man was sentenced to 30 years without a driver’s license!
Sipping tea under the Eucalyptus trees of the Driver Reviver, the cynical Klines developed a healthy respect for Australians and gained some spiritual lessons from the Driver Reviver program.
STOP. You need to come to a complete stop before you can clearly hear God. God’s voice is more audible in the unrushed life, when you stand still. Moses had to get away from royal responsibilities, family, and sheep herding and stand still in the desert before he could hear the voice of God; he stood still by the burning bush to hear God. Paul was on a mission of justice and vengeance with no time to stop; God blinded him to a halt to talk to him. Jacob had to stop running, take time out and lay his head on a rock; only then did God speak of assurance. John was banished to an island of silence and solitude; and God gave Him the revelation. Similarly, Ellen White practiced the art of coming to a complete stop to listen to the voice of God. In her Australian home, Sunnyside, still exists her prayer room: It is a closet with just enough space for one armchair and one person. She was known to begin every day in the closet, praying for an hour or more.
And it’s not about stopping only when running on empty! The program is as effective as the frequency with which it is used and why it is used; it depends on the commitment to the program. Looking at the array of free bikkies on the counter, we realized how ineffective it would be in many parts of the US where free is equivalent to “more for me.” Driver Reviver back home would go broke with people stuffing their back packs with free snacks for themselves and their neighborhood! one Kline said and the other Klines laughed.
Stopping for the free bikkies, to take a wee (restroom stop in Aussie-speak), or because you catch yourself dozing at the wheel is not an optimal use of the Driver Reviver Program. What would happen to a relationship, say a marriage, if we stop to refuel only when we hit rock bottom, or only on vacations or when we sense we’re heading for trouble? What about your spiritual relationship with God? Do stop to refuel at regular intervals? Or do you stop only when you run out of steam and out of all options?
REVIVE. The Driver Reviver Program revives the traveler both physically and mentally. Stretching our legs, having a drink and bikkies, gave us a fresh boost of energy; meeting strangers, exchanging travel stories and ideas fueled us with the sense of adventure to get off the main highway and take the scenic route. Had we been too tired from driving, we would not have seen the real Australia that rolls off the narrow, rugged roads. On the beautiful, exciting scenic routes of Australia there are no speed limit signs; the assumption is that you are an experienced, alert and responsible driver with a commitment to program. The only road sign we saw on the scenic route was Drive to Suit Conditions.
Similarly, in your spiritual life, after the experience of safe, strong spiritual travels of living the responsible, committed Christian life, God may lure you to the scenic route! The spiritual scenic route takes you go where you wouldn’t ordinarily go; you will meet angels in disguise, experience miracles, and witness events you’d never see on the main highway. Here you will encounter opportunities to tell your story and listen to those of others. He may invite you to take a detour to serve as a missionary in the Andes, or take up a cause that scares most people, or start a risky business. And just as the exits for the scenic route are few and far apart on the main highway, you can easily miss God’s calling to step out of the ordinary and experience the spiritually spectacular.
SURVIVE. The best argument to stop and revive is the assurance of survival. When you stop to revive, chances are you will survive the journey. King David is a perfect example of the Spiritual Driver Reviver Program. At the end of his journey, David “became exhausted” (2 Samuel 21: 15). He was an old man who was dealt too many low blows: he lost a son, saw his nation through a famine, experienced the misery of battle. He had good reason to be exhausted; yet he didn’t take a nap, whine about his difficulties, or place blame on someone. Instead the weary David lifted his hands to God and declared his feelings in a song (2 Samuel 22). His song was not dark, not a dirge. His song was not angry, not heavy metal. It was a psalm of praise: He had no regrets; only tributes!
David took the scenic route and his colorful life was a testimony to it. On his journey, he had many dangerous encounters–like the Yowies of Australia.
Yowies of the Aboriginal legends are “giant fellas taller than a gumtree” who dig trenches in which they place upright spears to impale men and roast them for dinner! David’s life was filled with yowies, from when he was a little boy facing Goliath to when he ran from Saul the Maniac King to when he lost his son. Yet he survived because he regularly and continually stopped to reconnect with God.
Chances are that at some point your commitment level to the program will slip and you will find yourself stopping only when you are burnt out. But regardless of when you stop, the Driver Reviver Program will welcome you: The driver reviver program is an act of grace. More importantly the program is run by volunteers: It is free; participation is your choice. The same is true of God’s program. It’s free; it’s an act of grace. Participation is purely your choice.
Driver Reviver’s a pretty good concept, one Kline grudgingly admitted and the other Klines agreed.