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Drive Straight Aunt Bessie

Aunt Bessie was an elderly woman, I would guess to be in her mid to late 80’s. Her grey hair testified to the years of her journey, and so did her walk. She was wearing a white blouse, very loose and covered with large purple dots and a dark mid-length skirt to match. Aunt Bessie looked much like an aunt that everyone has. She was just ordinary.

Aunt Bessie caught my eye because of something I heard. My family and I were approaching the front entrance to Opryland, USA just as it had opened. Though I love the shows and the music of a theme park, it wears me out doing all that walking from one place to the other. Anticipating being totally wiped out after, not one, but two days of it, when I saw Aunt Bessie, I wondered how in the world she would ever make it to lunch.

As we strolled along headed for the ticket booth I heard these words ring in my ears; “Drive straight Aunt Bessie”. Immediately I threw my head in that direction. The first one I saw was Aunt Bessie. She was with some of her family, raring and ready for some fun at Opryland. With her, as she moved along, was a young woman and a young man. They had two small children who hopped and skipped in front of them as if they were on the most exciting quest of their lives. To her right, the young woman, obviously the mother of the children, walked followed closely by her husband. Aunt Bessie was walking slowly, dressed in all her grandeur and pushing a baby in a stroller. Not only was she pushing the baby, but she was using the stroller as a walker. Ever so gently, Aunt Bessie placed one foot in front of the other trying desperately to keep her balance. As she weaved from side to side a bit to keep her balance, the stroller would dart in one direction or the other. The gentle words of the mother rang out again, “Now drive straight Aunt Bessie.”

I don’t know what it is about older people and babies, but they seem to understand one another, perhaps better than any others understand them. Most older people adore babies. If you don’t believe it, just take one in a nursing home and watch the reaction.

Aunt Bessie had been given the honor of rolling the baby around for the day and she was loving it. I watched the picture as long as I could, and even turned around after we got ahead of them and watched until I thought I was being obnoxious. My mind raced… “Drive straight Aunt Bessie.” What a statement. Here this woman had charge of their child. She had in her hands the most important resource on the face of the earth. She had in her control the life of a child. I’m sure the mother was concerned about Aunt Bessie or Aunt Bessie wouldn’t have been there in the first place, but I saw an over-riding concern for the child. The first thing I did when I realized what was going on was to get Nita’s attention and ask, “Did you hear what that lady just said?” She didn’t, so I filled her in and asked her to look at the picture.

Immediately my mind raced to the elders. I began to picture them behind the stroller as they held in their hands and their hearts God’s most prized possession, the church. It was as though I could hear Him say, “Drive straight Aunt Bessie.”

And then, I thought of myself, and how God had given me charge of my children. What an awesome task it is to be a parent. What a challenge it is to push the stroller straight, and in the right direction in order for my children to get safely into the Promised Land. I thought of how important it is to make careful steps, just like Aunt Bessie, taking care to keep on the right path and not cause damage to my children, or to myself. I also thought of all the times God had been standing over my shoulder, perhaps through the advice of another brother or sister; perhaps from the Scripture, saying, “Drive straight Aunt Bessie.”

My mind raced to feel the gravity of my ministry, and how critically important it is to stay on the right path in teaching and preaching. I thought of how much responsibility there is when you sit down with an individual or a couple and suggest things that would help them live in peace with God, and how many times God must have coached me, “Drive straight Aunt Bessie.”

From now on, I’ll be listening more carefully? By the way, how’s your driving?