Notes from the pastor July 5, 2020

Notes From the Pastor ~

Many years ago, I worked for an international timber products company in western Montana. They owned the land, they owned the timber, and they owned the mills but I was determined they would never own me. Because it was a large corporation, OSHA targeted us more than the smaller operations – at least, that’s what we wanted to believe. Every new safety restriction and every new set of rules was met with loud complaints. “Cried like a mashed cat,” was the popular expression. But sooner or later, the luxury of steady employment and free health insurance won the day and we swallowed our pride just enough to keep going.

When seat belt use became mandatory, however, we were inspired to take a stand. Gruesome pictures were painted of an entire woods crew that died trapped in a pickup after rolling off the side of the mountain. “If only they could have crawled out of the rig,” we moaned, “but everybody knows that if you are trapped upside down in a vehicle, it’s impossible to unfasten those *!!@# seat belts. We’re not going to die for your stupid rules!” Needless to say, we were wasting our breath. The thousands of dollars they would save in insurance costs meant nothing to us but, once again, we swallowed our pride just enough to keep going.

But wait, there’s more. Things got decidedly worse when the day came that I was loading up the kids to go to town for something or other. “Put your seat belt on, Dad,” they said. I then proceeded to explain the dangers of seat belts and how the seat belt law was only to appease the insurance industry and whatever else I could think of. They then proceeded to spend the entire trip to town explaining to me, their dad, that the data is out there – seat belts save lives. “Well, I ain’t wearing them,” I said and that was that – or so I thought. After this initial confrontation, each trip to town, every trip to the grocery store or some school function started the same: “Put your seat belt on, Dad.”

“I don’t think so,” I’d say and just when I thought I had worn them down, one day my daughter told me, “I don’t want to ride with you if you don’t buckle up. It’s not safe and besides, it’s against the law.” “Well, it’s not happening,” I said, thinking that would be the end of it. But to my surprise, she opened the door and started back for the house. Now, I know about head strong kids, having been one myself. So rather than make a big scene, I called her back and asked her, “Why is this so important to you? Is it because of what they’re teaching you in school? It is what your friends have been saying?” Her answer hit me like a hammer blow to the gut: “Because you’re my dad, that’s why, and I don’t want bad stuff to happen to you. If you got in a wreck and weren’t wearing your seat belt then you might not make it and I don’t want to lose my dad.”

“Hop in,” I said, “I’ll put the belt on.” And you know, I have ever since. Fear of punishment and fear of financial loss are great motivators, for sure. But nothing beats an expression of love. Let’s try to keep that in mind in the months to come.


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