Taking the Time to Commute

by on June 6, 2008

Two tips on how not to waste one’s commute.

Most full-time seminary students, it seems, live on or near campus and participate in community life. Then there are commuter students, those who because of jobs, housing and family commitments come from afar to study. Kari and I are part of the latter group — this post is for us/you commuters.

For three years we have commuted to classes. The journey started as 46 miles taking from 90 minutes to two hours in rush hour. A year ago we moved to a different town and now the trek is 36 miles, about 55 minutes. We thank God for the shorter commute!

Commuters are not only challenged with rising fuel costs (!); we are challenged to make the best use of our time on the road. Friends who take public transit (particularly lightrail), love it because it gives an opportunity for reading, reflection and conversation. For those who must drive themselves, here are two general tips for the road.

Because our lives are noisy, I’ve found that finding a balance between good noise and no noise is helpful for the soul.

Good Noise

Listening to talk radio (or in my case, sports talk radio) can be an agonizing experience. The whole industry exists to rouse people to respond to the controversy. Resist the urge to languish in the nonsense, and instead renew the mind (Romans 12:2) and fill the soul with God’s good Word. Listen to a sermon, a conference message, or the Bible on tape/cd/mp3. Fill yourself with the knowledge of the Lord God Almighty.

One fellow student listens to recordings of the days lectures. His commute is six hours each way. One semester I listened to Greek vocab a few minutes each drive. (For those who listen via iPod and headphones, remember that in most states it is legal to use one earphone, but not two.) In addition to my favorite Bible teachers, we listen and sing along to worship music. Thankfully, there are God-centered worshipers like the David Crowder*Band and Chris Tomlin to lead us to the throne of grace, and drown out my off-key voice.

No Noise

Try to commute partly in silence, in prayer. There is a great opportunity for commuters to transition their souls in ways on-campus students cannot.

Because we receive no mobile phone signal in our home, the commute is often the best or only time to check messages and call family and friends. One day a week Kari and I commute together, so we try to keep phone calls to a minimum. She prefers to listen to some worship music or nothing at all (while I’m clamoring to listen to conference message to pastors). Instead of competing for who gets to bring the noise, we let God win — so we pray. (Tip: keep your eyes open!). Our hearts are changed, our minds renewed, and God’s will is being done. Bring on the no-noise!

Let’s each resolve to commute for the glory of God and the good of our souls, whatever the distance may be.

Comments

Thanks for sharing your commute experience. There is a possibility that I may need to commute 55 miles to seminary. I was a bit concerned about the drive but after reading your post, I am looking forward to the time I will have to redeeming the time for the glory of God!

Cool!

Jose,

Glad the post was helpful. There are reasons for having to commute, and definitely a healthy community can arise when living on or near campus. Neither is “better” in general, I think, but wherever God puts us. I know that if I lived 2 minutes from campus my default mode would be to rush and not transition and have a rhythm of life.

We enjoy commuting except for two things: price of fuel (!), and impact on the environment. Our car is pretty efficient so the impact on both is minimized somewhat. Next year we’re hoping a situation can exist for me to ride the bus, which if course is cheaper, better for the environment, hopefully can build some friendships, and even get a little homework done (it would take twice as long to get there but doesn’t have to be ‘wasted’ time).

Thanks for the interaction all.

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