Thursday, September 8, 2011

What comes around...

Years and years ago, in what seems like another life, before I had ever even heard of what an actuary was, I was a teacher. A middle school math teacher for three years. Does anybody even remember that far back? Somebody did.

Last week I was driving home after work and a couple of errands. I entered I-85 from Taylor Road using the circular ramp, and saw a motorcycle cop sitting there. Ok.

About a half mile down the road, I looked in my rear view mirror and there he was, blue lights a-flashing. I looked down at my speedometer, and nope, I wasn't speeding. (I'll pause a moment for the collective shock out there to wear off.) Why was he pulling me over?

As I rolled down the window, the officer walked up and said in a loud voice, "Donnie Manis!" It was the sound of someone greeting an old friend, not someone who was about to send you to jail...or cost you alot of money.

Well, it turns out that this policeman was in one of my math classes way back then. He was surprised to learn that I was not still teaching. So after catching up on old times a little, I asked what I had done wrong. It turns out that I had somehow forgotten to renew my tag in June, and so he stopped me for not having an up-to-date sticker. Oops.

And then he said this to me, and this is the crux of this post: "You gave me a break a couple of times on tests when you could have failed me, so I'm going to give you a break today." No ticket, just an admonition to get the tag updated ASAP. (I did the next day, and you can see the evidence in the photo at the top of the post.)

One other funny thing about the incident. I wasn't sure whether the I had failed to pay the tag or just forgot to put the sticker on - yes, I am that absent minded. So he offered to look it up for me and invited me to go back to his motorcycle and see for myself. Before you know it, a police car pulled up, lights flashing, and parked behind us. I learned something: Since drivers are not supposed to get out of their cars when stopped, my standing there with the officer was a signal to the other one that there might be trouble. So there I was, pulled over, with a motorcycle, a car, and two policemen. I was sure somebody I knew would drive by and think I was in BIG trouble. Fortunately, that didn't happen.

How do you treat people every day? You know, I have no idea what I did specifically that this young middle school student remembered. I'm sure it wasn't out-and-out letting him get by without learning, but I must have shown some mercy. And because I showed mercy, he showed mercy. It reminds me of the parable in Matthew 18:21-35. A servant who was forgiven a great debt turned around and showed no mercy to someone who owed him a little. not good. We have been forgiven the greatest debt ever, and so we should forgive and show mercy to each other.

When we do, God blesses us with his mercy and forgiveness, which is everything we'll ever need. And every now and then, when we do it expecting nothing in return, we are surprised by how it comes back to us.

It did for me, and I am grateful. And I'm renewing my tag on time next year.

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