Thursday, March 27, 2008

$2.62 and the Rules -- Hope Chronicles 29

They do not provide parking where I work. Free unlimited parking is about 3-4 blocks away and possibly more depending on when you arrive. If you park closer, you have to move your car every 90 minutes and then it cannot be moved within a 1 block radius or you get a ticket. (This happened to a coworker.)

There is a parking garage immediately across the street, but it is run by the city and there is a monthly fee. It's more expensive to pay by the day. Anyway, the walk is good for me. However, rain, snow (There is some in the forecast!), and sleet make me willing to pay on the particularly blustery days or when I have to hurry to be somewhere after work. There have been a rash of those days this week.

Two days ago, the parking attendant mentioned to me that since the rails were up, people were exiting without paying. He told me, if the rails are still up tomorrow, just go out the back where there isn't an attendant and that everyone else was doing it.

Okay, I had noticed the rails were up, but it had never dawned on me not to stop to pay. I also didn't know about going out the back.

Yesterday, as I got in my car I had the debate. The rails were still up and the parking attendant had suggested the back way. But I found that I couldn't do it. I had chosen to park in the garage for convenience and I owed.... I think I truly surprised the attendant when I told him I just couldn't do it. He gave me a genuine smile and said, "Just when I get ready to give up on humanity, someone does something nice!" Paying $2.62 (it was my short day) never felt so nice!

As you have surmised, I follow rules. Part of it for me is respect and if I think the rules are for my benefit. I've had a few people comment, "You drive at 10 and 2!" in reference to my hand position when driving. That's what my driver's ed teacher told me to do 23 years ago. He also told me not to eat while driving because you can't really see over that Big Mac. While I do occasionally do this, I try not to and get anxious enough doing it that it is a deterrent. I've never had a speeding ticket. Yes, I play by the rules.

I was an Interpersonal Communication major in undergrad. I remember learning about a study that was conducted on children on playgrounds. Researchers discovered that children on playgrounds without fences (rules) hovered together more in the center of the playground. When there was a fence, the children explored the entire playground. The fence/rules provided a sense of safety.

I think the same is true of rules for us as Christians. God provided the rules not to put a damper on things but to give us a sense of safety. While sometimes the rules may seem to chafe, ultimately they are in place for our good.

The hardest time to follow the rules is when we doubt the intention of the one who created the rules. Isn't that where Satan attacked in the Garden of Eden. He didn't come out and say that rule is silly or wrong. Rather, he suggested that God was holding back on Adam and Eve. He made them doubt God's character.

We can find hope in knowing that God's intentions towards us is always, always for our best. Knowing that sets us free to be who God created us to be. And following the rules even when you could just go out the back may turn in to an unlikely witness!

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