My favorite food in the world is chicken a la mer from Jazz, a New Orleans-style restaurant in the Old Market district of Omaha. If I were having a last meal I would request chicken a la mer from Jazz. Picture the most tender boneless chicken breasts fried crisp, covered in a rich, creamy, shrimp-and-seafood-filled sauce so flavorful my mouth is watering just writing about it. And now imagine it’s twice as good as you imagined. And on Tuesdays it’s half price.
Needless to say, it’s not exactly Weight Watchers friendly, so it is a very occasional treat. Even without being on Weight Watchers, I know that if I indulged in chicken a la mer too often, I would be buying a new wardrobe every few weeks as I increased in size. Not a good thing.
However, this afternoon when Sam called my office and said he just wasn’t looking forward to the leftover meatloaf that was planned for tonight, and asked if I had any suggestions, the thought that it was Tuesday popped up outlined in neon, and my mental tastebuds were ON. (You know that state where you just keep thinking about the food? Like Thanksgiving morning?)
So it happened that we found ourselves down in the Old Market tonight. Generally the Old Market on a Tuesday evening isn’t too hard to navigate. It’s always fairly well populated, but unlike weekends, we expected to find parking within a reasonable distance and not to deal with too much traffic. However, we hadn’t thought about the fact that the live stage show of “Jersey Boys” was playing just a block from Jazz. All the parking for quite a distance was taken and we were dodging pedestrians and cars while trying to scan for empty parking spaces, in a maze of one-way streets.
We finally spotted one, but needed to circle the block to get to it. Hoping to swoop around quickly before it was taken, Sam rounded the corner and came up behind a car with a large sign on the roof: “Please Be Patient. Student Driver”
Patience was indeed needed. The student, beside driving about half the speed limit, couldn’t quite decide whether to stop or go at any time. He sat still at a green arrow, just barely rolling, till Sam politely beeped his horn, then suddenly accelerated through, leaving us with a yellow arrow. At the next corner, he came to a sudden complete stop at a green light and sat there till it turned yellow, then proceeded. Lucky for him, Sam was behind him rather than a lesser driver, or he probably would have been rear-ended. Needless to say, we missed the parking space (but did find another almost immediately.)
I was thinking about this later at home and it occurred to me that this student driver was pretty similar to me in my walk with God sometimes. Not so sure where he was going, hesitant even when there was an arrow pointing the way, not moving until someone urged him on, then stopping when everything said “go” and almost waiting too long and missing the “go” completely. I have a feeling if we followed him long enough we might just have seen him run a red light. I know I’ve done that spiritually – kept going where God says “stop”. Gone on with my own plans, chased after my selfish desires, justified my wrong decisions, let loose my thoughtless words…
But a student driver isn’t out on the highways alone. He has a teacher in the car with him, giving instruction and direction. The driver can choose to listen or not, to trust his own ideas of how to drive, even though he doesn’t know how, or to listen to the expert. If he chooses to listen, he will quickly learn and become skilled at driving.
The allegory is fairly obvious – I have a Teacher in my life whom I have a choice to learn from or disregard. I have the prompting of the Spirit in my heart, and the incredible gift of the written Word of God. Sometimes it is so easy to take that lightly – God gave us his Word – his thoughts, instructions, warnings, love notes, reminders, help and guidance for everything in life! And yet I can let it sit and choose to say “Not today, I don’t feel like reading the Bible today.” Oh, Father, help me cherish and appreciate how truly wonderful it is to have your Word.
There is one place where my little example falls apart. The student will, in a few weeks, learn to drive (green means GO) and get his license and no longer need the teacher. I will never stop needing the direction and help of the Lord. In fact, somehow, the more I learn, the more I realize I need to be taught.
Show me your paths and teach me to follow; guide me by your truth and instruct me. You keep me safe, and I always trust you. Psalm 25:4-5 CEV