One afternoon when I was twelve, a friend and I went to the liquor store for a soda. There seemed to be a liquor store on every corner in the area of Los Angeles I grew up in. On our way home we jaywalked across a busy four-lane boulevard during rush hour, causing some cars to stop. As we were walking though a vacant lot, I noticed a policeman on a motorcycle cruising up and down the street we lived on. He saw the whole thing and was ready to let us have it. I remembered what my dad had said to me many times; “Always respect the police. If you’re ever stopped by them, always answer, ‘Yes, sir’ or ‘No, sir,’ and don’t be a smart aleck.” I was unknowingly following Proverbs 1:8–9.
The policeman stepped off his motorcycle and proceeded to scold us. He gave us each a ticket for which we had to later appear in court. The judge let us off with a warning, and I learned that day that rules and laws are there to protect us from harm. I’ve maintained a healthy fear since then, but my friend went in the other direction. He laughed about it and mocked the judge for letting us off. A year later, he got involved with the local neighborhood gangs. In the following years, he dropped out of school, was arrested several times, and wound up doing time in prison. Several years later, I learned that he was shot and killed at a local park. He despised wisdom and instruction and paid a terrible price.
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