I was just driving along in my car, laughing with my family after leaving my son’s ballgame, when he appeared out of nowhere.
He was coming towards me in the other lane, and right about the time I laid eyes on his intimidating, unmarked, black Dodge Charger, his blue lights started flashing.
I immediately looked down at my speedometer, realizing for the first time that I was going over the speed limit. I assume it is normal to have an instant sinking feeling in your stomach when one realizes that you are about to be punished for your disobedience of the traffic laws – but in any case, that describes me.
I wish I could say I handled this situation well. Since my children were in the car, I could have used this as a wonderful teachable moment…… like admitting my mistake; willingly accepting the punishment I deserved; and being understanding that the policeman was simply doing his job, and trying to maintain safety for everyone on the roads.
But no. I was irritated. Ill. In fact, quite bitter.
You see, the past few weeks had NOT been good. Several trying circumstances that I was dealing with were weighing heavily on my heart. I was already feeling discouraged and worried, and now a speeding ticket? As my frustration boiled to the surface, I blurted out, “Oh. My. GOSH! Well, this is just great. Great, I tell you! It has been a horrible several weeks, now this happens?! This is the worst month ever!! Can’t anything good ever happen?”
I ceased my two-year-old temper tantrum long enough to pull over onto the grass, then watched in my rear view mirror as the police car gradually crept up behind me. I angrily got out my drivers license and registration, tapping my finger on the steering wheel with a scowl on my face, as I impatiently waited for the cop to take his ever-sweet time to come to my window.
“Maam, I stopped you for speeding. Drivers license and registration please.” I handed them over.
Then it happened. The unexpected. The undeserved.
The cop glanced into my car to see who was riding with me, and let out a big ol’ “hey!” to my husband, calling him by name. Apparently they had attended church together growing up and proceeded to spend a couple friendly minutes getting reacquainted. Then he handed me back my license and registration with a smile, and simply said “slow it down please, and have a good day”.
What?! We all sat there stunned for a moment as the cop walked back to his car. My daughter broke the silence with a giggle, and then my husband began to get a big head, raising his hands in the air and bellowing “it is a GOOD day to be married to ME!”. We all laughed and sighed a sigh of relief, as I drove away – quite slowly, I might add.
I had messed up. I had made a mistake. I had gotten distracted and taken my focus off what was important. I had not paid attention to the guidelines that I was supposed to be following.
I deserved to suffer the consequences – but instead – I was given grace.
Grace – because of a personal relationship.
The grace I received from the cop was not warranted, but saved me from many hassles, paying an expensive ticket, and raised insurance rates. Because of that grace, I got off scot-free. And for that, I am extremely grateful.
As I recalled that incident, I began thinking about how we get off scot-free from sin, when we are in Christ.
We mess up. We make mistakes. We do not live by His guidelines. We get distracted and lose focus. We deserve to suffer the consequences of our sinful choices.
Yet, if we have a personal relationship with Jesus, we get off scot-free from the eternal punishment of sin. We may have to suffer the earthly consequences of our choices, but not eternal consequences.
The definition of “scot-free” is this: to be or remain unhurt or unpunished; safe; without harm, loss or penalty.” Jesus took on our hurt, our punishment, our harm and our penalty, so that we could be scot-free in Him.
We do not deserve His grace – yet He gives it freely. It is not warranted, but it saves us from a life void of joy and peace. It was not expected, but His sacrifice saved us from an eternity apart from Him.
God does not want us to have a sinking feeling in our stomach when we realize that we have sinned, because in Him, there is no shame or condemnation.
Instead, He wants us to acknowledge our sin, repent, ask for forgiveness, and refocus our life back to Him.
Hebrews 4:16 says “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
God takes pleasure when we approach His throne in need of grace. The kind of grace that invites us into heaven, scot-free.
And for that, I am eternally grateful.
Guess good things do happen, even when life seems hard. Good things – like Jesus.