Tuesday I did my first Sheriff ride-along. I am not ashamed to admit I was a bit nervous. I was stepping into a world very foreign to me. New language. New culture. New expectations. I move in a world of controlled environments (for the most part) and I stepped into a world that is never controllable. It is often the worst day of people’s lives. And I’ll now be there. So, yes, I was apprehensive.

I rode with a young officer (he was a kid), very nice and very efficient. He welcomed me warmly and we were off to encounter life on the streets of Lomita and the eastern edges of RPV. I endured a couple of “lights and sirens” rushes to emergencies. To be honest, I just held on tight and tried not to scream. He was in full control and I trusted him. It’s the drivers we pass that make you nervous. Where are they really going to go next? Oh yes, I stalked Jordan and Kelly Browne.

To be honest, I think it has taken me a couple of days to emotionally recover from those six hours. The constant pressure of being on your guard. The unknown of what’s next. The pressure to make things right in this dark world. Those officers out on patrol have earned my respect, more than ever.

I won’t get into the gorier details of those six hours, but I will share one lesson I learned. I am used to looking for participles and aorist tenses and the grammatical construction of the Greek New Testament text. That’s my world (and my skills have garnered some rust over the years). I can spot the grammar and build a worship service… but spot the lawbreakers? He has his senses trained to discern something entirely different — right and wrong life decisions.

He was aware of issues I never saw. Something odd about a license plate. Something amiss inside a certain car. I missed one driver who made two turns without ever signaling (now, normally that would catch my attention and drive me crazy). He didn’t miss it, and he got to know the driver a bit more personally (no ticket was issued, btw). He would see things I completely missed. I wasn’t really looking. That’s not in my training.

In my world, I want to so love and do the Scriptures that I have learned how to discern between right and wrong — in my own heart. Because if I move lazily through life and never learn to make those distinctions, I’ll be spiritually immature. It takes practice to see the shades between good and evil. He could see it on the street. I can see it in the heart. He practiced enough to identify those little things which make people stand out.

So, I decided I’d better keep working on discerning good and evil in my world. The world of my heart. I need to get better at spotting errors of attitude and word that I could fix before God “pulls me over.”

“But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”  Hebrews 5:14