What does a taxi cab driver have to do with the gospel?_On the way home from_an evening out with my friend DaveI got into a really good conversation with my taxi cab driver. So good, in fact, that he missed the turn off the main road into our little university community. I noticed this right away, in_the way that you recognize something is happening, but don’t really catch onto the significance of the event. The meter said about 150 Bht. He didn’t notice this right away. But I didn’t know that, I just assumed that_he was going too_fast to make the exit, and was planning to_take the_first U-turn bridge (______ – “glap roht”) he could.__We_then missed the first U-turn bridge also. So, in a very Thai way of doing things, I started to point out the U-turn bridges that come every 1.5 miles or so, as a way of letting my driver know that we had missed my stop and needed to turn around. As we kept driving down the road, getting further and further from my home, my driver started to say that he felt __ (pronounced “ngohng”). Since I didn’t know what that word meant, and he couldn’t explain in English, I decided to look it up my handy dictionary._As we passed our third U-turn bridge_I_read in my dictionary_that he was feeling confused (or disoriented…)._ By now the meter said_200 Bht. I asked him what he was confused about, and he said it seemed like we should have passed the university already, but he hadn’t seen the big Tesco Lotus supermarket out in front of the road that you turn off of… at which point I cheerfuly explained that we had passed the university about four U-turn bridges ago (we were passing another as I spoke) and told him that was the reason why I kept pointing out the nifty U-turn bridges as we approached them, but that I figured he knew something I didn’t and so that was why I thought he kept driving us down the road (though admittedly I was starting to count the number of plates of fried rice I could have_bought with the extra money I would be paying for my ride home tonight). __ Now some taxi drivers would do something like this on purpose, taking their foreign passanger_for a longer ride in order to run the meter up, making a larger fare. (This happened to me just the other night_with a sweet little old lady taxi driver.) Or maybe if they did make a mistake, they_would count it as good fortune._But the man taking me home tonight was simply confused. He had good reason to be. It was late. He doesn’t come out this way very often. And because he starts work at 6:00am and finishes after midnight every day, often sleeping only 3 hours a night, he was very, very tired. He also has three kids at home, two teenagers and a toddler. Immediately he started to apologize, feeling great shame for his mistake._He would have kept apologizing for the entire extra_20 minutes it took to get home from that point if Kashmira hadn’t called, giving me an opportunity to change_the subject. Against my objections he turned off his meter – saying in word and deed that he felt so_bad about making this mistake,_that he would_pay for the extra distance himself._And as_we_pulled into the street that leads to_my home he tried to ask me for a ridiculously low fare, explaining that he had made the mistake and that he really should have to pay for it. Now normally the ride_should have cost me 150-175bht, by the time he turned off_the meter we were up to 22obht, and if he hadn’t turned off the meter it would have been 250-275bht._So I_paid him_300bht, insisting that he take it. And as I did so, I explained to him_that because I believe God has forgiven me so much, it is my pleasure to forgive him for missing my turn. And_that is_when_I started thinking about_good news for taxi cab drivers. _You see he did make the mistake… and in normal life he would be the one to pay for it – by giving his customer a discount (to pay for their lost time) and by covering his own lost time (which is lost money to a taxi driver) and his lost gas_all out of pocket. This is kind of like our normal lives. We make mistakes, and we pay for them. But the good news that comes from Jesus is not like normal life. We make mistakes,_and he pays for them. When we miss our turn, and our first U-turn bridge, and_another_U-turn bridge (before even realizing we missed our turn!), all that we have to do is take the next U-turn bridge we see,_start heading in the right direction and allow Jesus to pay for_our gas and our time, not letting our shame/guilt_cut_us off from relationship with him._(Interestingly enough in_Thai_one word for repentance is ______ “glap jai” meaning_literally to_make a U-turn in your heart.) Please don’t get me_wrong – this is not_intended as a pat myself on the back blog entry – nor do I assume that Christians are the only, or even the most likely group to pay extra money to taxi cab drivers – unfortunately more often than not those who call themselves followers of_Jesus have a reputation for being stingy – especially when it comes to tipping. All that I am saying is that tonight I was reminded of how grateful I am that God doesn’t make me pay for_everytime I miss my turn because I am tired,_and that tonight I am grateful I had the chance to model that part of who Jesus is to one tired and delightful young father who is brave enouch to drive a cab in Bangkok for the sake of his family.
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