"Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shall thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." Matthew 7:5
It was Easter Sunday and I had spent the day with my family. My Dad had gone to my brother's house for dinner, so I waited to go see him until later in the day when I knew he would be back in his room at the nursing home. He was not doing well when I saw him. He was exhausted from the day and his left hand seemed to be swollen and he was favoring it. I was concerned about him and spoke to the nurses, then had a very unpleasant phone conversation with my brother. By the time I left, I was quite distracted and upset. As I drove home, I found myself behind a very slow out-of-state car, going about 30 mph in a 40 mph zone. Adding to my distraction regarding my Dad, I was now feeling frustrated and very impatient that he was going so slow. I began tailing him, hoping he'd get the message to drive a little faster. All of a sudden, I saw the flashing blue light behind me. Knowing I wasn't speeding, I pulled over, expecting the police car to drive by me. The slower car in front of me also pulled over. Alas, the police car pulled up right behind me.
The officer came over to my car and in a very angry voice asked me if I knew the person in the car in front of me. I told him no and he motioned for the other driver to go ahead. The officer wanted to know if I had a good reason to be following him so close and proceeded to holler at me about following another car too close and all the dangers associated with that and of course, asked for my license and registration. Feeling properly chastised, I turned them over. A few minutes later, he came back to the car, returned my IDs and warned me again about following another car too closely. He indicated he would not give me a ticket and cautioned me to heed his warning.
As I pulled away, I felt some humiliation, but then began to get angry. "Seriously," I said to the dead air in the car. "You have cars running red lights constantly, people going through stop signs, people speeding and you stop me for following a car too close??!!!!" Immediately, this Scripture came to mind:
"Then Peter, turning about seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following: which also leaned on his breast at supper...... Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? you follow me."
John 21:20, 21
"You - follow me! Never mind what others do. I will deal with them. You - follow me!" These were the words I heard the Lord say and they brought immediate shame and repentance to my heart. I had been properly chastised by my Father and I knew I had grieved His heart. As I continued to reflect on this, I thanked the Lord for His chastisement. I thanked Him for His discipline because it represented His love for me. He loved me too much to let me continue on in my own sinful way. Not only were my actions wrong, but my heart attitude was dismal.
"My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Hebrews 12:5b, 6, 7, 11
I once heard someone say - God loves you just as you are, but He loves you too much to let you stay that way. I am so thankful for that. I am thankful that He loves me enough to correct me when I need correction, that He loves me enough that He's not concerned about my hurt feelings, that He loves me enough to walk me through the hard times of chastening. And I'm thankful for His forgiveness.
My heart rejoiced that day, even though it was a real moment of humiliation and shame at the awful attitudes that were still there alive in my heart. I give an account to Him of my actions only. I can't change anyone else's actions, but I can choose to be obedient to Him and change mine according to His Word.
And just for the record, I definitely do keep a safe distance from the car in front of me on the road these days!!