Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This is the first post from Nate Powell, a new contributor at Paul’s Ponderings. I met Nate in the summer of 1991, the summer before our senior year of high school, on a mission trip to Syracuse, New York. We hung out together during our time at Nebraska Christian College. Nate has been in youth ministry for much of his life after college. I am glad that he decided to be a part time contributor to the blog. ~ Paul Steele

Tales from the School Bus: Part 1

I drive a school bus. For those of you who don’t drive one, you have no idea the joys that are found in bus driving. The pulling out of your hair. The insanity. The daily frustration. And the interesting life lessons and parables.

One particular parable I received recently involved one of my students. We’ll call him “Chip”.

Chip rides the bus by himself. I pick him up from the school that he attends and take him to another facility in town. He is my only rider for just a few blocks across town, before I head to the school for another pickup. Most of the time our short 60 second conversation consists of “Hi”, “How was your day”, “Have a good night” type of stuff. But this day was different.

As Chip walked out of the school to meet me on this certain day, it was a crisp, cold 15 degree day with a bit of wind chill in the air. Needless to say, I was trying to keep all the heat in my bus that I could. As I looked out my open bus door for Chip to come, I noticed that Chip had stopped outside the front doors of the school. He was bent down close to a concrete pedestal that is located just outside the doors. He had an envelope in his hand, and he seemed to be tapping it on the concrete while talking to it. “Strange”, I thought to myself. After about 30 seconds of this behavior, he finally turned and came to the bus. He had a big grin on his face. I could tell that something was up.

“What were you up to, Chip?” I asked.

“Oh, I was helping a ladybug” he said.

“Oh, really?”

“Yes sir,” He replied. “I was in the school, and over close to the heat register I found this ladybug. It looked like it was trapped and bored and wanted to be set free. So I decided that I would carry it inside this envelope then bring it outside and set it free.”

“Ummm, Chip, you do know that it is like 15 degrees outside, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Heh Heh. Well I think that rather than freeing that ladybug, you just gave it a death sentence.”

“Oh,” Chip said with a serious face.

A slow grin slowly started to come over his face and we had a good chuckle about the Ladybug that he had just froze to death. It was just another day of bus hilarity. But as I thought about what had transpired that day on the bus, I realized that it is a parable of what sometimes happens in our lives.

Have you ever been to a church camp, a conference, a really good Sunday in Church, or small group? Or maybe you’ve just been involved in a really great quiet time with God. You know that feeling you have at the end of that time: your sins are forgiven, your batteries are charged, you are experiencing the freedom of life in Christ. In short, you feel like you are on top of the world. I think Galatians 5:1 summarizes the feelings we have when we leave these “spiritual highs” in our lives: “So Christ has truly set you free.” We love that! And we love to revel in it!

But don’t forget the next part of the verse where Paul gives a sobering reminder: “Now make sure that you stay free.” What is the implication of this passage? That when we encounter the freedom, love, joy, and peace that Christ gives us, we need to be aware that we will be tempted to be a part of a lifestyle that is not free at all.

One of the enslaved lifestyles we could live is one of being enslaved to the law … to be a Pharisee or a legalist. Paul warns the Galatian church against this lifestyle in Galatians 5:2-15. He doesn’t want to see the church caught up in a hairsplitting match or create a contest on who can keep this law and who can keep that law the best.

The other enslaved lifestyle is one of following our sinful desires. Paul spells these desires out in Galatians 5:19-21. These provide a clear definition of sin, and it’s the snare those sins create that can continue to enslave us in a lifestyle contrary to God’s will.

But enough of my rambling. What does all of this scripture from Galatians have to do with a dead ladybug? It is this: there are people, temptations, and ideologies which will try to take you away from your freedom in Jesus.(Tweet this) They will try to tell you that you are missing out, and that they can truly show you how to be free. But the freedom they have is a false freedom. And it will kill you. Just like Chip thought he was doing the ladybug a favor by giving it freedom, he was truly taking it away to its death.

Heed Paul’s reminder. Live in Jesus and his freedom. And MAKE SURE that you stay FREE.

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