It’s one of the most unique cars ever designed: the original slug bug- the Volkswagen. I should know; I had a 1972 VW Beetle when I was 17 years old. It was a stick shift with the air-cooled engine in the back, trunk in the front, and felt on the floor. The vinyl upholstery, baked in the west Texas sun, produced a smell that no car I’ve ever had could duplicate. It was yellow, riddled with minor dings and irregularities in the body. That, by no means, discouraged me from polishing it, so that every wrinkle in the steel was accentuated by a glossy sheen. I loved it. It was my freedom; it made me feel like a man. At that age I was starting to love things that made me feel like that, and hating things that didn’t. That is probably why I was beginning to hate Monday nights- scout meeting nights.
I was a proud member of The Boy Scouts Of America-had been since I was a wee cub scout. Olive green pants, red scarf, khaki shirt, merit badges and all. And, as if that wasn’t already feeling a little weird for me to wear at age 17, my overly pocketed scouting pants were getting too short, which revealed my thick wooly scouting socks. We had meetings every Monday night at 7:00 P.M. I was growing weary of being a boy scout, and was rapidly being influenced by the new friends I was making at the high school I had recently begun attending. I started there after I moved in with my dad, who taught math at the school, and I felt I was outgrowing scouting. My dad disagreed. He, like many wise fathers, wanted me to finish what I started. After all, I was getting very close to finishing up the requirements that would earn myself the honor of Eagle Scout. But, going to meetings and holding up three fingers, while reciting the scouting pledge, was grating on my too cool teenage nerves.
One night my friends called and invited me to play hooky from my scout meeting. Here was the plan: I, and the rest of them, would go out to one of their houses to hang out; then I would drive home at the time the meeting would normally be over. My dad would be none the wiser. The house was out of town a few miles down some dirt roads, surrounded by cotton fields; no one would spot me skipping the meeting. The scheme seemed fool proof, and my tempters assured me that I would not get caught. I went for it.
Things did not go quite as planned, though. (I know! I was shocked too.) Along the way, we got distracted by a large, low area of red dirt where water used to collect and sit. It was nestled between cotton fields. It had dried up, and was now calling to us, beckoning us to some good ole fashioned teenage fun. I drove my friends straight out into it to do some doughnuts, but to my sudden consternation, as we sped into it, we found ourselves tire deep in red, farm mud. The car had quickly sunk clear down to the chassis, but not, of course, until we had sputtered all the way to dead center of the dry “pond”. One of my friends called his uncle who owned a tow truck to get us out. He took his sweet time getting out there and assaulted us with a brow beating, peppered with cuss words that were drawn out through a stubbly, country accent. My alibi was shot. By the time I got the VW washed and drove up to my house, I was inexcusably and undeniably much later than my scouting meeting had ended. My dad had gotten worried and called the meeting location; I had been caught.
Had it all been worth deceiving my dad? Had it been worth the discipline I received for my disobedience? The truth is, my dad would have taken us out to a dry lake to do doughnuts, if I had asked. He was the one who taught me to drive that standard shift Beetle out on a dirt road, anyway. But even if he hadn’t, he would have had a good reason. He did what was good for me. He was a good dad. I was blessed. Yes, but, I wasn’t satisfied with that. I didn’t like my dad’s rule, so I rebelled, and, as it turned out, it was much more trouble than fun (though some of it was actually exhilarating), and punishment ensued.
This Psalm helps me comprehend it a little more:
Psalm 19:9-11English Standard Version (ESV)9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules[a] of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. 11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
Great Psalm! One problem: We have not followed God’s rules. Does that mean, then, that this Psalm is useless, that it is bad news? No! Jesus did two things with the law. He took the punishment for our failure to keep it, AND he obeyed it for us. We have failed over and over again, but through Christ, we can begin again today living under God’s loving rule. We can begin again tomorrow, obeying God’s good commands. “In keeping them is great reward.” Jesus kept them! Now, He leads us to His great reward, and, get this, He IS our great reward. Our encounter with Jesus is an encounter with His Father:
John 14:10English Standard Version (ESV)
10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.
Some of us have not had the blessing of a good father here on Earth, but we can, through Jesus, by His Spirit, experience and enjoy The Good Father who is in Heaven!