On my way home from an out-of-town speaking engagement yesterday, I noticed a string of cars on the side of the road. Within a 5-mile stretch of highway, I counted 15 of them. Each car had been pulled over by different policemen and all were getting tickets. And there were a few other police cars ready to pounce on the next offender.
The cops were out in full force.
It had been an easy and uneventful drive. I was listening to some praise music and singing along when I knew the words. I was thanking God for showing up in such a big way at the event I spoke at that morning.
And then it happened.
I saw those dreaded lights right behind me. And interestingly enough, the cars in front of me and behind me were experiencing the same thing.
When the cop came to my window and asked if I knew why I’d been pulled over, I had no answer.
- I wasn’t speeding
- My plates hadn’t expired
- There was no warrant for my arrest
He explained to me that I was being ticketed for following the car ahead of me too closely. Really?
There was traffic. We were all driving the same speed. No one was on the other’s bumper. It seemed ridiculous.
As I signed the ticket, he said to me, “Ma’am, we’re in this campaign to raise awareness of the issue of driving too close. We just want to keep you safe.” While I was frustrated about the ticket, I realized he was just doing his job.
We should follow his example.
- When our friend thinks flirting with a man other than her husband is innocent, we need to share our concern that she’s getting too close for comfort.
- When our husband isn’t investing time in the kids, we need to let him know he’s getting too close to creating a fractured relationship.
- When our children are hanging out with the wrong crowd, we need to remind them that getting too close will lead to bad choices with big consequences.
Sometimes, we show our compassion for others by raising their awareness of an issue. We risk facing their anger or frustration because we deeply love them. We care too much to let them get too close to destruction.
But our approach needs to be gentle and encouraging.
This isn’t the opportunity to slam them. Don’t do the “I told ya so” dance in front of them. Jump down from the judgement seat cuz the air is pretty thin up there. Don’t forget that you’re not all that and a bag of chips either.
Galatians 6:1-2 in the Message says, “Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.”
Simply stated, when you are helping others… be humble and tender.
The policeman wasn’t gruff in his reprimand. His testosterone wasn’t spilling into my vehicle. He didn’t belittle me for messing up. No. In a gentle caring spirit, he stopped me from a potentially dangerous situation.
I wonder, is there someone who needs your gentle encouragement today?
- Pray for the right time
- Pray for the right heart
- Pray for the right words
Sisters, there is little more valuable to me than my peeps. We trust each other’s hearts and motives. We have each other’s backs. We want the best for each other. We don’t allow each other to get too close to destruction.
What a gift.