Posted tagged ‘patience’

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!

Driving with Ill Will

July 10, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                               July 10, 2017

                                     

My wife Carol says that I’ve been a lot happier since I retired eighteen months ago. I’m not going to disagree with her and say, “No, I’ve been totally depressed!” If that was the case she would vote for more depression time in my schedule.

I have been happier…for some reason! I get to read more, walk more, hang out at Starbucks more. I laugh more and tend to spout some really bad puns.

But when I get behind the steering wheel I tend to take on a different personality, one that wishes ill will on some of the other drivers I encounter! I wish I understood it, but I don’t! Perhaps the inside of a car is a quarantined area where the fruit of the Spirit…love, joy, peace, patience… can not enter.

I pray for motorcycle cops to appear right when that oversized pick-up truck roars by me doing ninety! When the motorcyclist cuts over three lanes in a crazed burst of speed I long for flashing lights to come from behind.

When Mario speeds by me and we’re coming to a stop light I pray that God will change it to red so that we’ll end up at the same place and I can look over and smile. When someone races by me and then cuts in front of me I stretch my hand out towards him in a way that communicates “Go ahead, if that makes you feel special!” I’m hoping that whoever the driver is that he/she will be looking back at me as I make the mocking gesture!

Yes, I do all those things! I even yell at someone who sits stationary at a stoplight even after it changes to green. I say things like, “Come on!”, “Idiot!”, and “Wake up, fool!” I’m especially unchristian towards speeding BMW and Mercedes’ drivers. I’m guilty of praying for hail to pummel their vehicles! It’s not road rage, but rather the justified vengeance of God. I admit that I have a tendency to ask God to lower the boom on certain people that irritate me!

When I drive I am a different person! I am a firm believer in our need for grace, but I show no grace when I’m in the driver’s seat! I hear the words of Paul in my mind. “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15)

I’ve tried to remind myself that we are all sinners saved by grace, that there was a time when I drove my 1974 Gremlin a hundred miles an hour down a two lane Illinois backroad. I’ve tried to remind myself that I’ve fallen short and driven fast, but then about that time another Beemer goes racing by me and the vindictiveness rises to the surface again.

Oh, what a wretched sinner I am! What am I to do with myself!

I can hear Carol whispering, “Sit in the passenger seat!”

Supervising My Wife…and Others!

February 27, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        February 27, 2017

                               

My new career as a substitute teacher had a new twist to it last week. I was my wife’s supervisor…yes, her boss! I watched her every move, yelled at her constantly, told her exactly what she needed to do…NO!

I was subbing for the teacher of the special needs students’ classroom. About eight para-professionals who work with the students looked to me for direction…and did not receive it!

They went about their routines and responsibilities and I just kind of hung around and tried not to get in the way. They were all highly-skilled women who showed extreme patience with the students with special needs and limitations. One of the students got a grasp of the hair of a para. She patiently and gently untangled his fingers from her hair. Another student had an expletive-laced episode and his para calmly reminded him such language was not acceptable, and then, without missing a beat, got him focused on the academic work he was to do.

Amazing women doing an extremely difficult job for limited compensation! Amazing women who treat their students with care and respect, give hugs when needed, stern direction when necessary, and encouragement constantly.

And so I was the teacher! One of the days I led the students and their sidekicks in “adaptive physical education.” We played a version of dodgeball that I came up with called “The Fox and The Hounds.” The dodge balls were small and soft, the students sat on floor scooters, and I encouraged them to throw their dodge balls at the two “peer partner” students. In other words, they were to be the hounds “chasing the foxes.” One student who is immobile and wheelchair-bound also became the target. He squealed in delight at being included in the chase as his para pushed him around the gym in his chair.

The paras let me lead that experience, but they made it happen. They made it an enjoyable time of recreation for the students.

For the rest of that day I stood in the background and watched those I was “the boss” of do their thing. I saw autistic students figuring out problems, strong-willed students having face-offs with their paras who would not back down from the tasks that needed to be accomplished. I saw paras helping students into the bathroom, and I was thankful that such a responsibility was outside my qualifications. I saw students being re-taught how to feed themselves- a process that was being re-learned for the hundredth time!

The evening after I was my wife’s boss I saw her with a new appreciation. She has always had a heart for children and youth, graduating from TCU with a degree in deaf education, teaching deaf pre-schoolers, working with kids at church, and, for the last several years, coming alongside special needs students at our middle school. She is amazing and I will never, ever, never really be her boss!

We Don’t Know!

December 30, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                    December 30, 2014

                                                     

        Nothing quite causes unrest and frustration more than three words: We don’t know!

People who are looking for the answer or final solution find it hard to truly hear those words. You can blame it on the times we live in…and the devices of our time.

For example, I can look at a device wrapped around my wrist and instantly discover how many calories I’ve burned off during my workout.

I can look at the side of a box to find out how many grams of sugar are in the bowl of cereal I’m munching on.

I can go to the Channel Guide on my TV to find out what is playing at 9:00 tonight on the Sci Fi Channel.

I can go on-line to see the balance in my checking account.

But there are some things in life that have a grayness to them, that aren’t instant answers. Those three words…”We don’t know!”, cause eyebrows to be raised and fears to be heightened. They are three words that have become like a foreign language to our culture.

“We must know! We have to know!”

I recently was sitting with a family in a hospital waiting room waiting to hear from the surgeon about the difficult procedure the loved one had undergone. As we waited the text messages kept bombarding family members.

       “How did it go?”

       “Is he in recovery?”

       “What did they find out?”

       “How long will he be there?”

The spouse patiently responded to each one “We don’t know!” The waiting for word and the pressure from those who weren’t there to know was raising her own level of concern. Patience quite often takes a detour around hospital waiting rooms.

Last week my wife and I were inquiring about the purchase of a hot new product that we were looking to buy. The store was out of them. I found myself getting a little agitated when the salesperson’s respond to when they would get some more in was “We don’t know! Maybe next week…maybe a couple of weeks!”

The answer wasn’t immediate…and so I was up against a brick wall. The bricks did not feel good against my desire to move forward.

I often get spiritual questions that I can’t answer. The questioner looks at my response of “I don’t know!” and is taken back. I’m a pastor. I’m suppose to know.

But I have no idea how God created angels, or what kind of fish it was that swallowed Jonah? Why do good things happen to bad people…and bad things happen to good people? Why does one person get cured of cancer, and another die a slow painful death?

Life is filled with questions that I am clueless about answering.

Most of my day is spent in “the immediate.” That is, I can immediately know without wondering. It’s the moments of wondering that are uncomfortable, and yet they are also the moments that are usually tinted with the presence of God.

 

Having Patience in a Christian Bookstore

August 21, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                         August 21, 2013

I find it interesting that the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 is preceded by the acts of the sinful nature. It’s not until Paul deals out words like jealousy, hatred, selfish ambition, and envy that he finally gets around to talking about the spiritual fruit of love, joy, peace, …patience! I realize that the Word of God is inspired, and so there must be a reason why God had him write it in that order.

Perhaps it’s to help us identify difficult people…and then tell us to lighten up. Put a smile on!

Last week I had a couple of items I needed to get at a local Christian bookstore.

Translation! “God had a couple of ways he wanted me to grow in the spiritual fruit of patience…so he made it imperative that I go to the Christian bookstore.”

      As I avoided being trampled by a herd of smart-shopping women (Actually, just three!) because I mistakenly had entered into the aisle that was featuring half-price “get well soon” cards…that, unfortunately, were on the other side of me and the women were heading in that direction, I prayed for the protection of the Lord. His protection came in the form of a rack of Jesus t-shirts that I squeezed under until the feminine trio passed me by.

After the rumble had subsided I made my escape to go look for one of items that necessitated my journey to the store in the first place- communion cups! It was then that I realized how behind the times I am. At first glance I thought I was standing in front of a Christian coffee displays on K-cups for my Keurig. Then I realized it was the new “C-cups!” A taste of grape juice in the little plastic cup with a chewy tasteless wafer on top. It was the Christian fellowship version to popping the top on a can of Pepsi! Convenient, quick…probably cuts out a needless five minutes of wasted worship service time waiting for the bread and the cup to be passed out. Think of how much shorter Jesus’ last supper could have taken. In the midst of all the C-cup boxes…crammed into the back of the rack like an uninvited guest, I found a box of communion cups…the old kind, no bread attached.

I grabbed the box and started heading towards the front. I had forgotten what the other item I was suppose to get even was. On my way to the front a mom and her daughter were arguing about which cross necklace to purchase.

As often happens in stores, there was only one cashier at the check-out registers. Another employee was putting a name in gold letters on the front of a new Bible. Being fifth in line was my plight. I stood there trying to think of the Biblical significance of the number five…came up with nothing! By that time I was fourth.

Five minutes later I had moved up to second in the rankings with five trailing me. it was at that point that it occurred to the young guy with five facial hairs (There was the number five!) to call for another check-out person. It seemed as if a woman ascended from the ceiling to the next register over. The last two women in line sprinted to the front as if they were running the race to win the prize.

Patience, my son! Patience! Smile!

The woman in front of me had about fifty trinkets that had to be scanned individually. Numbers three through five gradually disappeared from my line like the morning mist. If the rapture is determined by whose last in line I’m toast!

The young cashier had no clue of my exercise in patience. He asked me the question, “How are you today?”

      Smile!!!! “Fine!”

      “Did you find everything you needed?”

      “And some things I didn’t need!”

      He looked at me confused…but he got over it!

“Do you still carry the Left Behind series?”

      “Yes, we do! Would you like to look for them?”

      No…no…no, I wouldn’t want to lose my place in line.”

      Further confusion in my wake as I exited the store with a smile on my face.

The Emerging Rude Factor

October 24, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                October 24, 2012

 

I was driving in the downtown area today with my youngest daughter and witnessed a determined lady turning on to the street we were on and disregarding a woman and her pre-schooler crossing the street. She sped on to pursue her daily agenda items, leaving an angry mom in her wake.

But sometimes there is justice! A police cruiser saw the whole thing, turned the flashing lights on, and sped after the speeding lady.

If only it would be that way all the time!

Rudeness has made a comeback, not that it ever left. It is leaving offended people behind it as it races on. I see it at high school sporting events, not just with the students, but also with the adults. Once in a while a display of good sportsmanship emerges to the point that it is commended and put on YouTube, but those have become the exceptions and not the norm.

I see it in how young people treat older people, and how older people treat younger people.

I see it in politics, but enough of that!

I see it in how people treat someone who is overweight; and I see it in how someone who is slower than another person can tolerate.

I especially see it in driving habits.

And now I see it in Facebook posts and Twitter tweets.

I see it on t-shirts that seek to either incite, draw attention, or both.

And I see it in the church.

Rudeness has become the norm.

The thing is…there’s this list qualities and characteristics that are written down in Galatians 5 by the Apostle Paul. It’s a good list! A list that many of us would want to see lived out in our child, or the potential marriage partner that we bring home to meet Mom and Dad. It’s a list of fruits, spiritual fruits. As I look at that list- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control- each of the fruits goes sharply against rudeness in some way.

If I’m patient I won’t try to rush ahead and cut someone off.

If I’m kind I won’t look for the first opening to tear someone down.

If I’m joyful there will be no bitterness in my actions.

 

Rudeness is a slippery slope sliding towards ripped apart relationships.

And why do we give in to its lure. Because even though we don’t want to admit it, too often it is still all about you, or all about me. And if you point that out to me I may call you rude!