Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children.” Ephesians 5:1
He gave me the thumb and I wasn’t sure I liked it. It was just about a year ago. It was a Saturday afternoon and I decided to take a trip to Marion. With my wife Judy out in Oklahoma doing family mission work I was a little bored. I wasn’t heading to anyplace in particular just getting out of town. As those who live around here know, the road to Marion is a nice four lane highway with a speed limit of 65 mph. I was hitting that right on the nose. Now, frankly, most of the time I am like most drivers and do a couple of miles over the limit. But today I was a law-abiding citizen. And then I saw him.
Up ahead some distance was a guy and his lady friend on a Harley. He was doing probably about 62 mph…just enough so I was either going to have to slow down or get into the left lane and pass him. The closer I got I could see that he looked just what my prejudiced eyes thought he would. Three or four days of stubble covered his face, a bandana held his hair down, well-worn jeans, a few tats, and some sort of leather vest finished his look. His lady friend also sported a bandana and was dressed in black. She reminded me of a female version of Johnny Cash.
So, giving the biker dude plenty of girth, I moved over into the left lane, cruise still set to 65. Just before I got even with the guy on the bike, he nudged the throttle on his Harley and soon was about 40 yards ahead of me. I thought, “Well, ok, maybe Harley’s don’t have cruise and he realized he was doing under the speed limit. But wait…now he’s slowing down again. Strange. I went back into the left lane and when we were about even—he throttled up again. Well, back into the right lane I went. As I did, he did his slow down thing again. I got back into the left lane and when I did his lady friend turned around and gave me “the look.”
I can’t really explain the look. I know when Judy gives it to me it never ends well. So, I filed that away. Soon I was even again with my friend on the Harley, and he looks over at me. I give him a shrug of the shoulders, the kind that says, “Hey dude, what’s up?” And that’s when he gave me the thumb. Now I don’t speak sign language at all. I do know when some people do certain things with their fingers it can be pretty ugly. I’ve had that happen before. But no one has ever given me the thumb.
He simply held up his hand, fingers tucked in and his thumb sticking out—kinda like a hitchhiker would do when thumbing for a ride. His thumb pointing to the rear of his bike, he gave it a jerk—pointing behind him—and throttled big and shot off into the distance. Just like that, he and she were gone. And not speaking fluent biker hand signs, I was left trying to figure out if I was glad or mad or offended or off-ended. I need to tell you that I’m not sure off-ended is a real word but it sounded good.
So as the biker dude took off, several scenarios kinda played through my mind. I mean if he was being a jerk, I could play like Clint Eastwood, reach under my seat and draw out my 45 magnum and say, “Go ahead…make my day.” But the only thing under my seat was an umbrella and it wasn’t a 45 magnum anyway. And maybe he wasn’t being a jerk after all. He might have been saying, “Hey, the girl on the back is my wife Sally. I just wanted to introduce her to you.” It could have been that he wanted me to fall in behind him so he could break the wind for me like one of those NASCAR drivers.
Truth is—I don’t have a clue. So, I pulled back into the right lane and kept on driving. I even notched it down a couple of miles per hour to give the biker dude plenty of room. He turned right heading toward Pittsburg and I will probably never see him again. But one thing is sure. If he should happen to walk into church this Sunday, unless I violated some sort of biker code I don’t know about, I won’t have to be embarrassed. I played it cool and hopefully acted like Jesus wanted me too. And that is what matters.
Paul told some folks at Ephesus who were Jesus followers that they should imitate God in everything they do. It not only applies to them—it applies to us. In other words, if we are Jesus followers, we should speak, act, think and respond like Him because we are His dear children. Now, I don’t always get it right. In fact, too often I get it wrong. But that day…it felt pretty good that I didn’t do something to embarrass myself or my Dearest Father. So, if someone gives you the thumb, or worse, just hit the pause button. Pull back into the right lane, bump your cruise down a couple of mph and rest. You know why, don’t you? That’s right…He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne