Rite of Passage: I will slow down
“I will slow down. I will slow down. I will slow down.” There, I said it, and my wife feels better.
Coming back from a trip to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico the other day, I got a speeding ticket. It had been a long day. My ministry partner and I had spent time encouraging a church across the border. Fear has overtaken that part of the world, and mission work has come to a standstill. Next, we met with a representative of the North American Mission Board in Laredo, Texas.
We didn’t get away until late and wanted to return to Tulsa before the Storm of the Century hit. Between Laredo and San Antonio lies a long road of nothingness, two and a half hours of mesquite trees and dirt. On the way back, my partner got a message from his daughter that contained an ultrasound image of his first grandchild. We were in celebratory mode when I saw police lights rotating in my rearview mirror. “Who’s he after?” I wondered until he moved up behind me and stayed there.
Only then did I realize he wanted . . . me. No policeman had pulled me over for years. But, obedient to his authority, I moved to the roadside and stopped. As the very polite patrolman filled out the paperwork, he gave me instructions about how I could pay the fine.
When I told my wife about this incident, she thought I should do more than send a check. She believes I also need to experience some public humiliation. She suggested I write “I will slow down” 500 times in the Baptist Messenger.
I am grateful we have laws to live by and policemen to enforce them. When we break the law, we need to experience logical consequences. Man’s nature is to rebel. We saw it happen in the Garden with Adam and Eve, and we see it at home in our children.
When I was growing up, our society emphasized the Ten Commandments. I heard people talking about breaking one or more of them. But if my childhood taught me one thing about the Ten Commandments, it was that they can’t be broken. Instead, failing to obey the commandments breaks . . . you.
God didn’t give us a set of broken rules to live by. Instead, He wrote His Commandments in stone and in His Word. He has reasons for every “Thou shall” and “Thou shalt not” (I grew up with the King James Version of the Bible, and it makes the commandments sound much more intimidating). Today, the debate of whether or not to put the Ten Commandments in public places continues while our children are heading to hell in a hand basket.
It we don’t teach them the Ten Commandments, how in the world will we teach them to obey any other rules? When you lose respect for these commandments, you lose the fear of the authority behind them. For the most part, this generation seems to thumb its nose at teachers, parents, churches and the rules any of these authorities lay down. These young people need the lesson of my childhood: You don’t break the Ten Commandments. You only break yourself.
I ask today’s church kids, “How many of you love Jesus?” The crowd stands and cheers as the students demonstrate their passion for the Savior.
Then I ask another question. “How many of you willfully and gladly obey your parents when they speak to you?”
The crowd goes silent. What these students don’t understand is that those two questions are one and the same. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). And what does Ephesians 6:1-2 tell us? “Children, obey your parents in the Lord . . . which is the first commandment with a promise.”
Obeying your parents shows Jesus how much you love Him. And Ephesians 6:3 tells us two benefits flow from that obedience. First, you will live well and be blessed because you have parents who care enough to put discipline into your life. A child without parental guidance is a child who has been handed over to the enemy. Parents who don’t discipline their children become their partners in certain destruction.
Ephesians 6:3 also says if you obey your parents, you will live long. The enemy wants to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). That, my friend, represents what he wants to do to your children. Obedience to authorities protects us from the enemy’s attacks.
I have great respect and admiration for the Ten Commandments and the laws of our lands. When I break one of them, I will pay the penalty. And my Texas ticket? It reminds me that “I will slow down”—even if I didn’t write it 500 times.
Walker Moore is president of AweStar Ministries in Tulsa, P.O. Box 470265, Tulsa 74147, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 800/AWESTAR (293-7827).