I was fifteen years old when I had my first ride on a motorcycle. I didn’t sleep for two days and nights afterward but it wasn’t from excitement. Remorse, fear and conviction kept me awake. Dad had explicitly forbidden me (and my younger brother) from ever riding a motorcycle and I had disobeyed.
My Dad grew up in an orphanage but when he was in high school he had a friend, Ed, who came from a “real family.” That family included Dad in many of their activities and he often spent weekends with them. On Ed’s 16th birthday his parents took him to a local dealer and he chose his new motorcycle. Dad would describe this event with great personal excitement. No one at the orphanage had ever received such an extravagant gift and he was probably more thrilled than Ed!
Dad rode in the car with Ed’s parents and followed as he rode his new motorcycle home. Just a few blocks from the dealer, Ed failed to see an unmarked, two inch diameter, 10 ft galvanized pipe sticking out of a truck. The pipe went right through Ed’s head – killing him instantly. Ed’s parents, along with my Dad, witnessed every gory detail.
Out of that horrifying experience came the rule in our house: Don’t even think about riding a motorcycle. We could all argue that the rule was unreasonable; the fear irrational; that some good therapy would’ve helped Dad understand the motorcycle was not at fault. One might even present a good case for the rarity of red warning flags coming loose from objects extending out of trucks. I could even make the argument that I rode the motorcycle in a farm field, wearing a helmet, with no other vehicles or obstacles in sight. But those are just excuses: I had disobeyed – sinned.
I was literally sick due to lack of sleep and the emotional turmoil. Dad was no dummy – he asked what was going on. I confessed and expected the punishment to be swift and severe. Instead, the discipline handed out that day has lasted a lifetime and has been unusually cruel – and it’s also been one of the greatest gifts my Dad ever gave me.
In spite of his absurd fear of motorcycles, Dad was gifted with great spiritual wisdom. He looked me in the eye, shook is finger in my face and with a stern voice said, “Don’t ever forget the conviction, remorse and fear you’ve experienced the past three days. The motorcycle rule is insignificant compared to God’s commands. I pray that every time you’re faced with a decision of whether or not to obey God you’ll remember how you felt after that motorcycle ride.”
No other punishment was handed out. Within the family setting, nothing was ever said about the incident. To this day, every time I see a motorcycle, I’m reminded of how costly it is to disobey.
Have I lived perfectly since then? No. Not even close. (Just ask my wife and children.) But there have been – and continue to be – many times when I recall the sense of foreboding after I rode that motorcycle. It was an unforgettable lesson about remorse over sin; about confession and repentance and the receiving of forgiveness.
Is it possible that we have become immune to the sense of fear and remorse for disobeying God’s commands? Has conviction hung over us for so long that we have learned to live with it? Do we experience remorse and conviction when we act in defiance to God?
This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.
If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. 1 John 1:5-10