Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Instituted for our own good

2:54 p.m. Today's project was to get up at 6:00 a.m. to take my son Steven to the Riverside County Clerk-Recorder's office to get documents and payments certified and sealed in an envelope for the US Department of State appointment I have on Friday at 7:00 to get his passport.
Whereas yesterday's post contained rants against the bureaucratic nightmares our family has faced with Steve's Alzheimers, I have high praise for the efficiency and courtesy of this county office! Heidi, Steve and I all got our passports there, and had them in hand in 2-3 weeks. Because Steven is having an "emergency" passport made, meaning traveling in 5 days or less, and I have to go as his authorized representative, issues got much more complicated.
As we drove towards the county administration center, I prayed, "Lord, please clear our way, allow our documents to be in order, and our time to be speedy." Things looked promising from the beginning, because there was a parking spot right in front of the door. We stepped right up to the "start here" desk, explained our need to have documents prepared for the Dept. of State, and were swiftly sent over to Window 8. The young woman at the desk couldn't have been more friendly, knew her business, had Steven initial a couple of changes (last name first, my maiden name instead of my married name, an extra box to be checked) and took the checks and money order. She returned from a back area with all of our documents, including Steven's birth certificate and passport pictures--why do those pictures make everyone look like a criminal?--in a sealed manila envelope. Then she administered an oath of allegiance, I guess, having Steven raise his right hand to swear that any and all statements on his application were true. Reminded me of my swearing-in at the beginning of each of my three school board terms to uphold the U.S. Constitution as an "officer of the State."
Much as we citizens like to grouse about the minutiae involved in dealing with any level of government, Romans 13:1-5 (New Living Translation) makes clear what the Christian's attitude must be in dealing with our civil servants:
Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. For the authorities do not strike fear in those who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. The authorities are God's servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God's servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.
"God's servants" include both the less-than-friendly passport lady at the Post Office and the pleasant, efficient lady at the County Clerk's office. I'm thinking that category includes the municipal workers who shut off the power to my nephew and niece's home today, claiming that the home they own in Orange does not exist at that address! Oops, almost started another rant!
I think the Bible has a word for me, and all of us, on the subjects of inefficiency and bad attitudes from Jesus' own mouth, Matthew 7:3-5: "Why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."
Boy, do we need a daily infilling and refreshing from the Holy Spirit and the Word of God!!

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