Originally published on April 6, 2013
I got a speeding ticket a couple of weeks ago. This is not unusual for me. Hence, the nickname in the title of this blog. I used to be released with a warning often when I got pulled over. But, at almost 40 now, I believe the bloom is off the rose. So now, if I get pulled over, I get a ticket. Even if I have a good excuse. Now, a really good excuse has never been the case for me - until 2 weeks ago. My traditional reason for speeding - not paying attention. But THIS time, I was not paying attention for a REASON. I had finished teaching a class and checked my phone to find several messages informing me that our house had been broken into and there was a police officer there investigating. I was pretty upset. And it was a few moments later that I was stopped by an officer. As frazzled as I was, I managed not to cry while he was talking to me. But I apologized and explained to him with quivering chin the situation I had just learned about and that the Grapevine PD was at my house at that moment. With a lack of sympathy that I found unbelieveable, I was issued a citation. He did offer me a "be safe" in an unfeeling monotone, but somehow that didn't leave me all warm and fuzzy.
My husband was pretty angry when I told him about it. He decided that it would be worth my time to try to get it dismissed. So I set a court date, believing my situation would pull on the heart-strings of the judge and I could avoid paying the fine and having to take defensive driving. I took a copy of the police report from our burglary and pleaded with the judge for mercy. He handed my case to the DA to "see what he could do". What he could do was not what I had in mind. He knocked $67 off of the $192 fine and gave me 30 days probation to keep the ticket off my record. So to walk out the door that day, it still cost me $130. Ouch. That didn't feel very merciful to me. It felt like I was being placated so I would go away and not take up any more of the court's time.
This event left me thinking about "mercy", which of course made me think about my relationship with God. What if God were an uncaring tyrant (like the police officer in the story - although I will deny making that comparison if I have to)? What if He didn't love us at all and punishment was doled out to fulfill His sense of duty and justice irregardless of what is best for us? Or what if he was like the judge - up there in a position of authority, but not really involved in our lives? Or what if God were like the prosecutor? What if he didn't have the desire or even the authority to grant us total forgiveness? What if I had to beg and plead my case constantly before him and receiving only bits of mercy? What if we had to bring sacrifices like Old Testament believers (like the afternoon I sacrificed sitting at the court house) to appease God only momentarily? The sad fact is, I think there are some people who truly view God as one of these 3 characters. But because of Jesus, I receive from God what I never did from the Colleyville Justice System. I am forgiven. I wanted the judge that day to tear up my ticket or declare it dismissed - in essense making it as if I had never broken the speed limit. When I accept the gift of Jesus' death of the cross and put my life into His hands, He makes me justified before God. Justified = just as if I'd ...never sinned. Never coveted, never cheated, never stolen, never lusted, never acted selfishly or unfairly. That's how God sees me now, because when he looks at me, He sees Jesus in me.
So although I was unable to get my ticket forgiven, the fee and the probation are a small price to pay when I compare them to the sacrifice of Jesus. And I can't get too bent out of shape about having to pay the price for breaking this one rule, when Jesus has paid for all my wrongdoing.
"But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, make us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." Ephesians 2:4-7