School is back in session now. While driving past Ramsey Elementary School this morning on my way to work, I thought about a blog post I wrote several months ago. Here’s a portion of that post.
I was traveling to work one morning, lost in deep thought about my 9 a.m. appointment. I liked the lady I was scheduled to see. She was a devoted mom, actively involved in church volunteer work, and I found her quirky sense of humor refreshing. But, she was also in deep pain. She couldn’t seem to find freedom in a difficult, often toxic, relationship. “Lord, help me see what I need to know about this precious woman’s heart,” I prayed while driving to the office.
I was only a few blocks away from the church when I glanced in the rear view mirror and noticed the unmistakable flashing blue lights following me. A quick glance around at the empty street convinced me those lights were meant for me. At the next cross street, I turned, parked the car, all the while wondering whatever was wrong.
The handsome young police officer (HYPO) exited his patrol car. The conversation that morning between the police officer and me went something like this:
HYPO: “Morning, mam. Do you have any idea why I’m stopping you?”
Me: “I’m sorry, officer, but I don’t have a clue.”
HYPO: “I didn’t think so.”
Me: Perplexed as I handed over my up-to-date driver’s license, registration and proof-of-insurance card.
HYPO: “Thanks, mam. You remember those flashing yellow lights by Ramsey School back there?”
Me (gulping): “I’m sorry, officer, but I don’t.”
HYPO: “I didn’t think so. You sailed right on past me.”
Me: “Oh, my goodness. I am SO sorry. I wasn’t paying attention. [At this point—rather wisely, I believe—I decided it wouldn’t be prudent to explain I wasn’t paying attention because I was praying for my 9:00 appointment!!]
HYPO returns to his patrol car. I assume he’s checking my record for any criminal activity.
Me: I’m feeling confident he’d find none!
HYPO, sauntering back to my vehicle: “Well, mam, I’m not going to give you a ticket today, but in the future, you need to be more careful when driving through school zones.”
Me: “Thank you so much! I know I deserve a ticket, and I assure you I will be more careful in the future.”
HYPO: “You do that, mam. Now have a good day!”
After taking a couple minutes to catch my breath and return the documents to their rightful locations, I began thinking about my interaction with the nice young police officer. He had every legal right—plus the authority—to give me a ticket for exceeding the 25 mph speed limit through a school zone when the yellow light is flashing.
Instead, the officer acted with grace and showed me mercy.
I know I may be running a risk here of over-spiritualizing a ticket for driving too quickly through a school zone, but as I finished my short commute to work that morning, I couldn’t help but believe once again, grace had found me! My encounter with the HYPO was an apt illustration of God’s grace.
There have been many times in my journey of faith when I realized God had every right to deal harshly with me, and God had the authority to do so. But, that wasn’t the heart of God.
Instead, God acted with grace and showed me mercy.
I still drive past that school several times each week, and I never fail to watch for flashing yellow lights. My decision isn’t because I’m afraid my luck ran out. I’m not fearful of being caught, forced to pay a big fine and run the risk of insurance premiums being raised.
The experience of receiving the HYPO’s grace motivates me to pay attention and reduce my speed because I realize the law behind those flashing yellow lights is intended to protect little children—to ensure safety.
Likewise, the experience of receiving God’s grace motivates me to consider more carefully my behavioral choices because I believe sincerely God’s ways are meant to protect me and those I love. God’s direction is intended for my wellbeing. There may be times when I suffer painful consequences because of my choices, but even when that happens, I believe beyond any doubt
Grace is being given a great gift I really don’t deserve.
Thank you, God, for the really good gift of grace you’ve shown me even when I know I’m undeserving. Help me become an ever-increasingly gracious woman. Please keep teaching me how to extend your grace to those whose lives intersect with mine. And, Lord, I ask you to show your good grace to each person reading today’s post. Amen
May you be blessed with God’s good grace!