I cannot begin to count the number of miles, nor the number of hours, that I have spent in the bed of a 1978 Chevy Silverado. For years, this regular cab pickup truck, was the primary means of transportation for my family. During the early years, all six of us could successfully pack ourselves into the cab…if we followed the strict order of time and space. Aside from my father, who was the perpetual driver, we all had to load in the proper order from the passenger side of the vehicle.
Once my dad was placed behind the wheel, we could begin. My little brother would enter first…shifting his backside forward, his feet down and to the left and his knees low and to the right. I would enter next…with my hips tight to the back, my left foot forward and just to the right of the accelerator and my right foot folded up behind my head. My older brother next, would keep his feet right, knees down and to the right, hips also back and then he would kiss the dash. Mom would hop in and pull our baby sister onto her lap. Everyone would exhale simultaneously to compact our chests and slam the doors. There was no need for seatbelts, nor, was there air conditioning. The passengers nearest the driver had to always pay attention to be able to shift their knees left…right…split…to avoid the black shifter knob cratering their kneecaps…or worse.
It’s hard to believe, but the four of us children would sometimes complain about these arrangements. Which dad would reply…“Then you can ride in the back”…so we did…at least the three of us boys did.
There was an advantage to riding in the bed of the truck…my parents could not see the abuse I caused to my brothers. There were times in my childhood where I may have been thought of as an instigator of fights…I would “at times” mock and tease my siblings. Perhaps it was trying to compensate for the mocking we would receive from our friends when arriving to church and climbing out of the topper covered pickup bed.
When riding in the back of a pickup truck…there are really only two seats…one on each wheel well. The first two people into the truck bed would get the “seat.” I was always one of the first two…because even if I arrived third I would rip my younger brother from the tailgate and throw him down to the ground, or simply shove him off the wheel well he was already sitting on and take his place. He didn’t care much for that…and so he would scream and retaliate. I would then…do it again. I didn’t care. I was concerned with one person…and that was me. My heart was rock solid toward him. I pretty much felt no concern for him…and when he cried…I smiled.
I am pleased to say that the Lord has softened my heart since those days. Yet, I am reminded of my own depravity when I look at the hardened hearts of the Jewish leaders as they cry out to have Jesus crucified! Then I am jaw droppingly humbled when I see who I am…and what Jesus does. I am like Barabas…guilty. Yet, Jesus takes my place…just as he took Barabas’ place.
Then suddenly, I find myself free!
Free from the condemnation of my sin! Being offered something that I have never deserved!