Summary: The meaning and depth of grace is demonstrated in the Father's love.

Dirt Roads & Donuts

Luke 15:11-32

It was big. It was brown. And it was ugly. But to a 12-year-old boy it really didn’t matter what it looked like. Now if the boy had been 16 it would have made all the difference in the world, but when a young man is first learning to drive, he’ll drive anything. I’m talking about my grandfather’s 1972 Ford Galaxie 500. It was the car I really learned how to drive in, and I used to drive my grandfather around the woods of south Jackson Parish so he could “look” at his timber.

My grandfather had rheumatoid arthritis and was unable to drive himself. Actually, he was unable to do much of anything so my brothers and I spent much of our teenage years helping “Papaw” do the things he was unable to do for himself. Driving was one of those things, and he always wanted somewhere to go. His going afforded me the chance to learn to drive at an early age. He would let me drive him around in that old brown car and I loved it.

I remember the first time he let me drive it by myself. I had rehearsed it in my mind how I would manipulate the situation to get to drive. I would offer to take him for a ride if he wanted, and if he were not in the mood to go riding, I would ask him to let me take the car down to the “Snow Place.” The “Snow Place” was not really a place at all. It was only a couple of miles from my grandfather’s house, and it was referred to as the “Snow” place because a family by that name used to live there (you folks who grew up in the country know how places got their names!). I hatched my plan and I went into Papaw’s room, and just like I planned he was resting.

“Papaw, want to go for a ride” I asked?

“No, not now. I’m resting,” came his reply.

My plan is working I thought. Now for the clincher.

“Well, how about letting me drive down to the Snow place and back,” I asked?

“Okay, but be careful, and come straight back,” Papaw said.

I thought I had died and gone to heaven. My first solo trip. I walked out to the car (I should say floated), and with all diligence, backed the car out of the drive. I eased the big brown machine down the dusty road, around the curve, across the “branch”, and finally up the hill to the Snow place. There was a wide fork in the road at the Snow Place, and being the typical 12 year old I was, I could not resist the temptation to “cut a donut” in the middle of the fork. I hit the accelerator and around that big brown car went.

“Not a half-bad donut,” I thought as the car came to rest in the center of the road. And fun, too. Let me try that again. Once again, I stomped the accelerator, and that big brown car did the prettiest dive into the nearest ditch you have ever seen. When my heart got out of my throat, and after I said a few things a 12-year-old should never say, I got the nerve to get out and see what damage I had done. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I discovered there was no damage. I figured no harm, no foul. So I got back in the car to back it out of the ditch. You guessed it! The car wouldn’t budge.

Let me make a long story short. After two hours of sweating (and not a little crying), my uncle showed up. He didn’t say much. He just sort of had this silly smirk on his face. He got in the car, turned the wheel in one direction, hit the accelerator, and the car came right out (it is amazing what a person can do when they know what they are doing). My uncle told me it was time to get in the car and head home.

When I couldn’t stand it any longer, I asked my uncle, “Are you gonna’ tell Papaw,” I asked?

He simply looked at me and grinned. “No. You are!”

Well, I did tell Papaw, and you know what he did? He said he knew. Anytime a 12-year-old takes two hours to go two miles there must be something wrong. He asked me if I learned anything? I said yes, and that I was sorry, and that it would never happen again.

Papaw said, “Good. Now take the car down to the Snow place and turn around and come back.”

I couldn’t believe it! He was trusting me to drive alone again after I had made such a stupid mistake. But I took full advantage of the opportunity.

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