Thursday, June 18, 2015

Learn By Heart

We're in the midst of one of the testing phases of our Metro Transit bus operator training course. This morning we completed pre-trip testing and tomorrow we'll be tested on our driving skills. Right now I'm reviewing the "Preparing to Drive" section of the manual. If we pass the driving test, we'll move to the "in service" portion of training in the middle of next week, picking up and dropping off passengers! Wow!

This afternoon both I and the other man who has been doing on the road training with me passed a sort of "practice test" covering backing up (in a parking lot with cone markers) and a multitude of maneuvers on streets and freeways, traveling through both expected and unexpected situations and hazards. The "practice test" was overseen by our instructor. Tomorrow someone else will administer the real on the road test. We expect to pass, but something unexpected might happen. There are no guarantees. Frankly, I'm looking forward to getting through and over this test.

Why do we get tested? We, and countless others in many occupations, will have many people's lives in our hands. The driving examinations are in place so our employers will be satisfied that we can perform under pressure, not just to satisfy some law or employment requirement, but so we'll be less likely to kill people and cause damage to property. In the end, it's a matter of doing what we're told so we can serve people with the respect and love that God has for all who live.

I remember, years ago, when I was a young pastor, an older pastor I worked with quite a bit was big on the phrase "learn by heart." He wanted us to think of what others thought of as "memory work" (learning verses and Luther's Small Catechism) as storing up God's word "in our hearts."

The point of what he was saying was that it wasn't just a matter of stuffing words into our memories just to pass tests but instead it was a way of remembering what the One who loves us best has to say. That way, when the pressures and disappointments of life build, we'd have the Word to fall back on. It was a good practice, though I can't say I was ever very successful in passing on the practice to those I have mentored. I'm not sure why.

In any case, what we're learning as drivers is indeed something that is meant for more than just passing a test. It is a response of love toward all our neighbors -- toward all those who will be driving and walking and biking around our buses, and, of course, to those who will be putting their lives in our hands as passengers.

If you would like to pray for me and the other bus operator trainees, ask the Lord to give us the understanding that what we're learning isn't just to pass a requirement for employment, but it's so we can bless others and keep them as safe as we can.

Lord Jesus, I trust you. I trust that you will turn my attention away from "passing or failing" a test, but instead to bring everything into my heart, so I remember, even in the middle of the test, that doing well is a way of sharing love with all the neighbors that will be in and nearby our buses as we drive tomorrow -- and in the days to come.

At some point, tomorrow or after that, I'll let you know how it goes.

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