Sunday, November 20, 2011

on seats, belts, power and peace

Yeah, she fits -- but this was 2 and a half years ago.

So, today on the way to church, we got pulled over by the traffic police. They had actually set up a full road block. It was 8:45 in the morning -- someone had obviously decided that this would be a good time to get all those crazy drivers.

So this young fellow waves us over. We had not been speeding -- who does, on Sunday morning?? -- and we were all belted up, so for a couple of seconds, we just sat there wondering what we did wrong, and experiencing, for the first time, being at the receiving end of curious, schadenfreude-laced stares.

Well, the guy came over, got us out of the car, and told us what our offence was -- Becky was not in a booster seat. She was belted up, but she wasn't 8 years old -- the apparently defining age, we were discovering, when children in this country can stop using booster seats.

Never mind her height, never mind her turning 8 in just a few months, never mind that the seat belt was fitted fine across her collar bone and chest (not her neck and stomach!). The guy was determined to get us to the fullest extent of the law. A warning, even a stern one, would have been insufficient, and well, simply too nice. Instead, a hefty fine and demerit points, with the reiteration that she had to be 8, and that no, he wouldn't measure her height; it would be too impractical.

Now just give me a moment here to wonder -- what is it with these people (never mind that that 8-year-old law is inane; that's obviously beyond dispute)?

Invariably, you find these sort of individuals in positions of "power". Throughout our children's lives, we have conscientiously used the infant seats and the car seats and the seat belts, without fail, while people around us would be happily driving about with their babies on their laps in the front seat, or their kids bouncing about loose all over the back seat or dashboard.

And let's not even talk about the innumerable nutcases who recklessly speed, or the clowns who illegally park and dangerously obstruct.

Where are those Sunday morning road-blocking cops then? That young man captured all the smug arrogance of an unexceptional 20-some-year-old who's given an ounce of power. "If you want to test a man's character, give him power," said Abraham Lincoln. Power untempered by wisdom and mercy is dangerous at the worst -- at this petty level, it's just plain irritating.

And the worst part of it (besides the fact that it made me late)? It affected my peace for at least 10 minutes into church. There I was, singing "My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou; if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now", and my mind was going over and over the details of what had just happened.

During the corporate prayer, I repeatedly found myself shaking my head (figuratively) in disbelief at the guy's swagger and hubris, and going over the ill-considered booster seat ruling (based, according to their website, on the belief that the children in this country who are below 8 are "not tall enough to use a seat belt safely").

I'm telling you the truth -- I could literally feel the spiritual struggle going on in me. I literally had to stop and breathe and ask for God's help to calm down and rein in my thoughts. I do not make myself get up at 8 in the morning for worship, just to have it spoilt by some... person... or some stupid situation. God did not give me "a spirit of power and of love and of calm and a well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control" just to have some cocky kid or senseless ruling make mincemeat of it.

That's what that divine spirit of power is for isn't it? To enable us to rise above challenges and circumstances tranquil and untroubled, with a God-given peace that passes understanding.

"Do not resist the evil man [who injures you]; but if anyone strikes you on the right jaw or cheek, turn to him the other one too.

And if anyone wants to sue you and take your undershirt (tunic), let him have your coat also...

You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy;

But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

To show that you are the children of your Father Who is in heaven... For if you love those who love you, what reward can you have? Do not even the tax collectors do that?

And if you greet only your brethren, what more than others are you doing? Do not even the Gentiles (the heathen) do that?

You, therefore, must be perfect [growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity], as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matt 5:39-48).

Psalm 37:8 says, "Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret — it leads only to evil". I thank God that He did help me regain my peace soon enough, so that I became a joyful, rapt listener of the Word (more on that soon!).

And, well, looks like Beck will be using Ro's carseat for the next few months.

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