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The Most Ridiculous Parking Lot Incident I Ever Saw

June 2, 2018

This event is from y1ears ago, back when I was a youth pastor here in eastern Tennessee.  Our teen group had been at a camp retreat out of state and it was early evening when I pulled our church bus into a local restaurant to let the guys and gals enjoy a buffet-style feed.  It was a feast, to be sure, and after 45 minutes I paid for my meal and directed the teens to also take their tickets to the cashier, pay,  and head back out onto the bus.  As I was walking past the front dining area, I glanced outside through the wall-to-wall plate glass window.  Three of our girls had finished early and were chatting on the sidewalk right in front of the window.  Just as I was about to turn away, I saw one of the girls – let’s call her “Jenna” – abruptly break from the group and march toward a new car.  The back trunk lid was open.  Jenna purposely grabbed the lid and slammed it down.  I was thrown by this; this was obviously not Jenna’s car and not her business to go near anyone else’s property – what if the owner had stepped inside and was retrieving something to put in the trunk?

Now, Jenna was one of those headstrong teens you find in numerous youth groups.  She knew her way around and was not hesitant to instruct others about the error of their ways.  Some teens would label this a “busybody” or a “know-it-all.”

There was something odd about this situation, though.  Jenna was one of the brightest girls in our youth group.  She understood social rules.

I started toward the door, but as I did I saw that the trunk popped open again.  Jenna looked at it for a moment – and slammed it down again.  It popped open once more.  She once again slammed it into place.  As I was going through the outer doors I could see the other girls were uneasy with Jenna’s boldness and were timidly trying to stop her from this repeated action.  She ignored them and slammed the trunk down.  It popped open.

“Jenna,” I called as I walked toward her.  “That’s not your property.  Take your hands off of it.”  Jenna looked at me.  She looked at the trunk.  She slammed it down again.  It popped open again.

I was taken aback.  “Jenna, did you hear me?  Keep your hands off of someone else’s car!” Jenna looked at me; it was plain that she heard me.  She stared right at me, and put her hand on the trunk. She slammed it down again.  It popped open.

I was thrown by this defiance.  “Jenna, I’m serious.  Move away from that car!”  She looked at me quite seriously – and then slammed it down again.  It popped open.

I was about ten steps from her.  “Jenna…”

I noticed her face.  She was listening to me.  Jenna was not a rebellious teen.  Oh, she had her own mind, which occasionally got her into a fix, but she was never openly defiant.

Her face … she knew what I was saying … you could see she was agitated.

I realized then that she knew what to do.

She just couldn’t stop herself.

Her face was stricken as she looked at me and slammed it down again.

I saw something out of the corner of my eye in the front window of the restaurant.  There was a small group of people looking out the window, laughing.  A thirty-something-year-old man was chuckling and pushing a remote button.  Then it occurred to me.

That car was this man’s car.  He was popping open the trunk lid with his remote key.  If I got my observation correctly, the front dining hall people were counting how many times they could get Jenna to slam the lid.

I stopped and gestured to the front window.  “Jenna,” I nodded toward the dining room group.  “You’re their entertainment.  That man is hitting his remote key.”

It was obvious to all of us that Jenna realized she was being played for a fool in front of a crowd.  Her face dropped as she looked at the window.  The man looked at her full in the face and reached out his arm.  And pushed the key button.

The trunk lid popped open.

Jenna looked at the laughing crowd.

And she slammed the lid down again.

He hit the remote key, grinning ear to ear.  The trunk popped open.

She stared right at him.  Reached out.  And slammed the trunk lid down.

Before I walked next to her, he had pulled it on her three more times.  One of the other girls physically had to remove her from the car and walk her to the bus.

She knew she shouldn’t be doing it.  She knew she was being watched.  She knew she was being made fun of. yet she continued to do so.  Jenna couldn’t walk away.

Before you think I am getting a bit harsh here, I never brought it up to her afterwards.  Jenna’s name, obviously, was changed for this story.  I did notice, though, that her aggressive behavior changed from that day forward.  I think she was reflecting on her actions.

It made me reflective on mine as well.

How many times had I known the right course of action that a Christian should take, and did my own desire anyway?

I had fallen into the rut of putting the Christian life on auto pilot.  I knew the general direction of the Believer.

But I lost my focus on Christ.  And in doing so, I lost the need to correct my ways in order to keep my close friendship with Him.

I had dropped the word “repentance” from my daily life’s dictionary.  I was ignoring what the sacred Scriptures said in the example of David in Psalm 32:5:

“I acknowledged my sin to You, my sin I did not hide.  I said ‘I will confess my sins to the Lord, and You did forgive the guilt of my sin.

And again in Psalm 51:  “The sacrifices that please God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart.

In fact, if I remember the great scene in Heaven as narrated by Jesus Himself, I find the action of the mortal that causes Heaven to celebrate:

“I tell you in the same way there will be more joy in heaven … joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” 

For the unsaved, repentance leads to salvation.  For the Believer, repentance leads to restoration.

So how does it work for me?

Repentance is, first of all, realizing my sin.  Seeing how dirty and disgusting it is. Realizing that people are watching me … and maybe even laughing at my poor testimony of who Jesus is in my life.  Repentance is then seeing that trunk lid pop open again and truly wanting one more time – just one more time – to have my own way, but turning and walking away.

Simply turning and walking away.

Back to Jesus.





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