Man shall not live by speed alone

I’m afraid the Old Testament record of Creation is somewhat incomplete.

The first seven days are solid: light, firmament, earth and plants, heavenly bodies, birds and fish, land animals and humans, and a day off.

What’s missing is Day 8, when God created potholes.

It’s not known for sure whether the potholes actually came on Day 8 or a bit later — to God, “a day is like a thousand years,” according to Second Peter 3:8 — but it’s clear that the potholes came very, very soon after Day 7, in response to the invention of pavement. Apparently, shortly after humans appeared (Day 6), they took advantage of God’s day off (Day 7), and — behind His back, without any divine approval — paved.

This is not speculation. A prophet talks about it in Isaiah 40:4: “The rough ground will be made level, and the rugged ground will be made smooth.” Pavement, obviously. And not God’s will. Ask any seminarian.

So when God roused Himself from His sabbath and looked around at Creation on Day 8, He was horrified. Not just in a Joni Mitchell way — not just because “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot” — but because human beings, God’s proudest Creation achievement, would now go racing around on their smooth pavement in their manmade machines, crashing into not only each other but also the Day 3 trees and the Day 6 land animals, particularly the squirrels. Running into the trees would not do as much damage to the trees as to the humans themselves, but hitting the squirrels was going to be exceedingly hard on the squirrels.

All this pain and suffering grieved the heart of God. However, He was not one to sit and mope. He was still the Creator, after all. So He corrected mankind’s mistake. He responded to the pavement problem by creating a divinely simple solution: potholes.

Potholes are God’s way of keeping drivers on their toes.

I witnessed this supernatural safety feature last week, as I returned from Ipswich center to my home on outer Linebrook Road. Near the curvy Y-shaped intersection at outer Linebrook Road and Leslie Road (sometimes known as the Gateway to Rowley) was a trinity of potholes. Their configuration was not random. They were precisely situated to require devilishly careful calculation. If I eased my vehicle to the left, my right tires would go into one of the potholes. But if I eased to the right, my left tires would go into them, along with my rack and pinion. The only other solution would be to swing into the left lane and risk an unpleasant confrontation with oncoming traffic — which could easily happen, since there’s a rise in the road at that point on Linebrook, so you can’t see a vehicle heading your way. Until it’s too late.

Consequently, I had no choice but to slow down, ponder my eternal future, cross myself, and proceed at a snail’s pace.

This is God’s plan for my life.

I confess, in winters past, I have been known to hurl my very small car around that Gateway to Rowley curve and slide helplessly into a snowbank. But God loves people, including me. He gave us potholes. Potholes are a gift from the Father.

It is no secret that I revere the workers who repair our Ipswich potholes. I’ve posted videos of these heroes dutifully fulfilling their mission. I’ve referred to them as the “pothole gods.” They have a hard job and they do it well. It’s thankless work — people always complain about how long it takes them to show up. (I have an Ipswich-resident friend who says driving into this town is like entering the Paleozoic Era.) But the worst of the pothole-fillers’ burden is not physical or social; it’s spiritual. They’re spending their working lives striving to undo what God is striving to undo: mankind’s moral depravity. The sin of speed. Is there any other explanation for potholes? I think not.

Follow Doug Brendel at but stay back 100 feet.

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