Posted tagged ‘guilty’

The Penalty For Ignorance…the DMV!

October 2, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                      October 2, 2018

                           

Carol and I were driving to Simla on Sunday morning. I was scheduled to speak to the Simla Saints, as I do many Sundays. I was ready to tell them the story of Simon Peter, who, after a night of catching no fish, is told by Jesus to cast his nets one more time. I went through the message in my mind as we drove down the road.

And then the flashing lights appeared behind me.

“I wasn’t speeding was I?”

“I don’t think so,” encouraged Carol, as she reached for the car registration.

The law enforcement officer approached my vehicle. “Good morning! Sir, you’re driving with tags that have expired. I checked a couple of places and it came back the same result. 

I looked at him with bewilderment and a quick search in my mind for understanding. I went into the vault of my memory to find some evidence that I had taken care of the renewal that had expired at THE END OF MAY!…exactly four months in the rearview mirror!

Seriously, I did not remember getting the reminder card that they send you in the mail. Perhaps it got mixed in with the political ad recycle pile, or perhaps the U.S. Postal Service was to blame! Yes, that’s probably what it was!

Or perhaps I was just stupid and didn’t do it!

Innocent or ignorant, didn’t matter! It was time to pay the piper disguised as…the DMV!

My personal list of dislikes is not that long…arrogant athletes, itching hemorrhoids, speeding BMW’s, seventh graders who think they are entitled, and…going to the DMV! It’s the adult equivalent of after-school detention!

It is my penance for negligence, for being totally clueless to the fact that I hadn’t noticed something I should have for 120 days!

The DMV looks like a crowded airport terminal where several flights have been delayed. An expressionless lady greets me…kinda’…at the front counter and asks me why I have come to the DMV on the first day of October with the masses that have gotten there before me.

“To renew my tags, ma’am!” She gives me a number. I look to see if it says, “Come back tomorrow!” It doesn’t! Instead, it says that I’m number 658. I’m not quite sure what that means until I see the lit board on the wall that could double as a Bingo number board. They are now serving number 560. I’m only a hundred away!

But there are other numbers on the board as well! There’s 131, 322, and A8. It could be that I’m four hundred away, but they are trying to fool me into believing I’m close. It’s another part of the punishment strategy of the DMV. I’m convinced they have goal-planning retreats to dream up new ways to inflict pain on the mental and emotional state of those who enter its doors. In the backroom I’m envisioning their mission statement in bold script writing:

“Our mission: To test the patience of our customers who have no choice but to sit and wait!”

And so I wait! I find a seat wedged between a hefty guy wearing Old Spice and a young man focused on playing a game of some kind on his cell phone. I’m the traditionalist who has brought a book with him, Patterson and Clinton’s The President Is Missing. Ironic that I’m reading this book in the DMV, a place that is missing compassion and concern because I was missing that little sticky tag. 

Two hours later my number gets called by the automated Bingo caller and I make my way, number 658 in hand, to counter number 19 where a middle-aged woman gives me a suspicious look. She reminds me of my third grade teacher who was suspicious of anything any boy in her class ever did. The memory makes me shrink into a moment of confession.

“My tags are expired. I don’t remember ever getting a card in the mail!” I plead in a pitiful way. She looks at me with disdain. I have a memory of being sent to the principal’s office and wonder if there is also such a place in the DMV. Perhaps it’s another room where you take another number and are told you can’t eat lunch that day. (I’ve noticed a sign with big bold letters as you enter that tells people that no food or drink is permitted in the DMV! People leave the place dehydrated and nutritionally depleted!)

She takes my information and tells me the total. I repeat the total to her as I begin to write my check.

“$160.43?” That’s not bad I tell myself.

“No.” She repeats the figure again. I’m $300 off! “$460.43!”

“Oh!” 

I swear I hear a chuckle resonating from her. I think I see her lips whisper the words, “Sucks to be you!”

The total includes a fine for being ignorant and negligent, and to make sure you never come back to the DMV ever again!

And, you won’t believe this!…in the mail that afternoon is the renewal notice for our other vehicle. It needs to be renewed by the end of October.

I immediately renew it on line! The DMV has taught me my lesson!

Baptist Mom Guilt and God-Leadings

May 17, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                       May 17, 2016

                            “Baptist Mom Guilt and God-Leadings”

Last week my cell phone rang at 5:55 A.M. It was Amy, the lady who assigns substitute teaching positions. Usually the automated call comes at 5:45, so I had drifted back to sleep, thinking that there would not be an assignment for the day.

When the phone rang I answered and, with a hint of desperation, Amy’s voice greeted me with a “Good morning!”, and asked me if I was available to teach a third grade class that day. I had just been through a two-day first grade gauntlet, so I said that I would pass. Her voice carried subdued disappointment in it as she said good-bye.

I laid back down and then I felt led to call her back and say I would do it. She was overjoyed, as well as relieved, and I prepared for a day of corralling third graders.

Later on that day it hit me! It wasn’t a leading from the Lord that had caused me to call her back. It was “Baptist Mom Guilt!” BMG!

If you’ve been raised Baptist, especially independent or Southern Baptist, or Catholic, or one of a few other church backgrounds, it is very likely you know what I’m talking about. Baptist Mom Guilt is that loud inner voice that tells you to do something that you have no intention of doing.

Christians speak quite often about being led by the Lord or led by the Holy Spirit. For me, it is often difficult to differentiate the voice of God from the voice of my mom in decisions that are made.

For instance, even though it has been several years, this was a meal-time dialogue with my mom:

“Bill, do you want more squash casserole?”

“No, I think I’ve had enough, Mom.”

“There is just a little bit left.”

“No, I’m okay.”

“Just enough to dirty the dishwater!”

“No, thank you.”

“There are children around the world who are hungry, but you want me to just throw this last bite of casserole away?”

“I’m just full, Mom.”

“So you didn’t like the squash casserole?”

“It was great, Mom.”

“If it was great then have this last bite.”

“Okay! Okay! I’ll take it.”

I loved my mom. She was an awesome woman, who is now whispering in the ear of God, seeing if he would like that last bite of the heavenly squash casserole. (Not really, but I can envision her standing in Glory with a serving spoon in her hand.) She knew how to get my siblings and me to do things…Baptist Mom Guilt!

And the thing is…there are a number of times each day when I hear her voice as I’m making a decision. Since I’m not substitute teaching this morning I’ll probably go home and “be led” to vacuum the family room, and do a load of laundry. I’ll hear the inner voice saying, “Why are you relaxing? Don’t just sit there. Do something!”

There are some Sundays where Baptist Mom Guilt drives me to church. Some mornings BMG causes me to withstand the temptation to wear the same pair of underwear for two days in a row. It also makes me clean my dinner plate, brush my teeth, and pick up my socks.

So how do I know that I’m being led by the Holy Spirit, as the Book of Acts so often describes what happened in events of the lives of the apostles, and how do I know it’s Baptist Mom Guilt?

I think I’ve figured out a few things…maybe! If what I’m being lead to do alleviates feeling bad about myself it is probably a moment of BMG. If what I’m being led to do helps someone draw closer to God, or experience the unconditional love of God it has a great possibility of being a God-leading. If the leading begins with the words “I ought to…” it is probably Baptist Mom Guilt raising its parental head. If it is a leading that is framed in a thought that says, “I don’t quite understand this, but…”, it could very well be the leading of the Holy Spirit.

If it is a leading that results from a Sunday morning plea that says, “If we don’t get more volunteers, we can’t…”, beware! If it is a leading from someone’s heart cry that says, “I’m looking for a few people to join me on a new ministry journey of…”, listen closely!

I’m still figuring out this whole discernment thing! The good thing is that I’ve come to grips with how Mom still speaks to me. I remember the conversations of love being expressed, the two-layered coconut birthday cakes made, sitting between her and Dad in church, and I weigh those pictures and memories against the bite of squash casserole left in the dish…and it’s all good! It’s all good!

Coffee With Jesus…Sixth Cup”

August 4, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                    August 4, 2014

                             

“It’s been a few days. Have you abstained from the caffeine?”

“Just been busy,” I replied to the Messiah. “Things have been…you know…crazy!” The two of us hadn’t gotten together for coffee for almost two weeks. “I’m sorry! I’ll try to get back into a regular coffee time with you.”

“You don’t need to apologize.”

“Well…I know you’re always available, and here I am taking two weeks to get together with you. I feel a little embarrassed about that.”

“Get over it!”

“Okay…so you’re saying my sin is taken care of.”ht

“Do you think it was a sin?”

“I’m assuming so. It seems that if I’m feeling a little guilty about something that there has to be sin lurking somewhere underneath it.”

“Could it be that it’s more about how you’ve been conditioned…how you were raised…what the church taught you growing up? Things like that.”

“So you’re saying that I’ve been conditioned to feel guilty?”

“In some ways. Were you told growing up that you should be at church Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday night?”

“A few thousand times. You know the saying, Jesus…if you go to church on Sunday morning, you love the pastor…if you go on Sunday night, you love the church…but if you go on Wednesday night, you love the Lord.”

“So when you miss spending time with me you start wondering if you really love me?”

“Yes…it comes back around to that again.”

“Why do lovers of God think performance is so important? Why can’t they rest with an assurance that they are in love with the Lord, and the Lord is in love with them?”

“And when you say “they”…you’re saying “me?”

“Good catch.”

“Because we’ve…been conditioned that way. I’m operating out of a mindset that says this is what it means to be a good Christian boy. It’s hard to break out of that understanding. It’s almost like I feel I’m betraying my roots, all the people who invested in my life.”

“So, to put it bluntly, you’re more conditioned by your culture than transformed by God.”

“Wow…that was pretty blunt. And it’s dead on. To use a rough example…it’s kind of like when I eat oatmeal now. Growing up we always put graham crackers in our oatmeal. The other day I was at Starbucks around breakfast time and I decided to get a bowl of oatmeal. Do you realize that Starbucks doesn’t serve graham crackers with their oatmeal. They give you raisins and nuts to put in it. I protested…to myself…that this wasn’t oatmeal, but since I paid $2.60 for it I went ahead and ate it. Do you know something? It was pretty good! But I had to break out of that “conditioned understanding” of what oatmeal is.”

“You put graham crackers in your oatmeal?”

“Yes.”

“That is weird! And you call yourself a Christian!”

He gave me a slight grin.

TO BE CONTINUED