When we were in Ireland with mom and dad… I learned to drive. Driving over there is not hard as long as you stay on the right side of the road. All learners receive and are required to display a rather large decal on the front and back windscreen (window). It is approximately 6 inches by 6 inches, and has a white background, with a big red “L” which stands for “Learner”, displayed. On the other side of the decal is another red letter… “R” which stands for “Restricted”. I was a “learner”.
Rather sheepishly, dad and I would go out and I would practice. The roads are narrow… When we saw an American car over there, which was rare, we couldn’t help but notice that it took up most of the country or back roads. I could not figure how they drove over there because the steering wheel was still on the left side. The steering wheel is on the right side in British cars.
As usual, dad was issuing orders and warnings as I tried to drive. Since the car we had was not a car, but a MINI-VAN, the gear shift was on the floor, and I had to learn how to shift gears smoothly, not hit anything or anybody, stay on their right side of the road, follow and observe the signs (which were different) and remain calm all at the same time. I had to watch the speed limit, and learn to back up, park, pass and a dozen other things….
There were times when we were coming to a stoplight, and it was green but then it turned yellow and then red, and it seemed to dad that I was not stopping fast enough for his comfort, so he would say, “stop Jack”… “Stop Jack!”… and then “STOP JACK!!!” So I did… but I would forget that I needed to push the gear shift peddle as well as the brake, so the Van would stop and not turn off. Eventually I got it.
Learning all these things was not easy, but it was exciting. We always returned home safe.
Well, one day we were on the way to church I believe and dad decided to drive. All went well until he turned onto a dual carriageway (high way). No problem… except he had forgotten about the cardinal rule of being on the right side of the road. Cars were coming at us all of a sudden. Then it happened, the cars coming at us all came to a screeching halt, and doors flung open, and a bunch of Irishmen came running at us, waving their fists… and yelling something… Dad always said, “The Irish have big hearts and short fuses.” He is right.
Dad always was a quick thinker, and in an instant he remembered the Red “L” on the windscreen… He quickly pointed to it, hoping it would help. It did, The leader of the ‘mob’ stopped everyone, and said, “Ak (Irish for something, don’t know what), he’s just a learner.” He took charge and said, “Everyone get back in your cars, and let him turn around.” They directed dad where to turn and help direct the traffic. Finally we were on the right side of the road.
Dad carried that red “L” with him from then on, and used it all over the world to teach a simple but profound lesson… AS LONG AS WE ARE ON THIS EARTH, WE ARE LEARNERS. Things change, and so do people… if we give them time. WE NEED TO MAKE ROOM FOR EACH OTHER… Paul says, “Accept him whose faith is weak without passing judgment on disputable matters” (Romans 14:1). “Accept” carries the idea of BEING PATIENT AND LOVING, AND HELPFUL. Then in Romans 15:1-2 Paul says, “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves…. build him up” Just like our Master (Romans 15:3). “Accept one another, then just as Christ accepted you….” (Romans 15:7). This doesn’t exclude the idea of correcting each other, but that should be done with love as well. The present practice of ‘black-balling’, ‘labeling’ is not what the Master had in mind in my opinion. Jesus deals with us differently than we deal with each other.
Think about it, Jesus came to this world and shows us who? “God” you say correctly. What about the disciples… who do they show us? Often we are stumped here… but the answer is “US”. How Jesus dealt with the disciples, shows us how he deals with us. This is one thing we see all through the gospels. He knows we are weak, sinful, emotional, cranky, depressed etc… He knows we sin, and sometimes in a big way… but he doesn’t quit on us. John says in I John 1:9 “… He is faithful…” He knows we are learning. Sometimes we learn kinda slow, while other times we are quick. Keep in mind not everyone learns at the same rate.
The Gospels are all about this very thing… Jesus invests precious time in 12 learners… teaching, correcting, loving, laughing, sharing, commissioning, empowering, setting an example for them… because one day He would be leaving them. No, they wouldn’t be alone, they would have the Holy Spirit, and He would bring all things which Jesus had said to their memories.
Learners… disciples…. and it doesn’t matter whether you are an elder or deacon or minister or teacher… it matters little if you have one or more gifts from the Spirit… the most important thing to remember all your life, is ALWAYS… BE A LEARNER. Grow in grace brethren… Heaven bound!