Dense fog covers the highway. Slow down. I remember yesterday’s warning and I stop speeding. For the remainder of my trip I think of him.
Grace. The man in uniform extended grace as unexpected as his presence. No ticket was issued. No points were affixed. Despite my best attempts to let luck run out, life number nine was not the end.
I live speeding. I’ve been stopped at least half a dozen times in the past year. I have no excuse. Generally, I don’t even have a reason. The tickets don’t faze me. But today I am changed. Today I was overcome with gratitude when I turned onto that foggy 25 mph road where I was stopped the day before.
I thought about what I would say if I was stopped again and it grieved me. Then, a miracle for the girl who married a drag racing mad man. I slowed down. I drove 25 mph for the several mile stretch through town. During what had always felt like a total waste of time, I looked around. I gave thanks. I appreciated my surroundings and the laws that seek to protect them.
It was grace that slowed me down. It was grace that corrected my hellbent rebellion. It is grace that makes me stop and think about the goodness of the law. It is grace that grieves me when I find myself breaking it again.
It grieves me. When the mercy of a man who owes you nothing but a forceful demand for retribution shows up on your doorstep, all that’s left to do is take a good, hard look at your own careless, sneaking rebellion in light of his goodness. One cannot help but grieve.
But I was let go. No penalty. I got away with it, right? I should be laughing. But, no. When forgiveness finds us, forgetfulness about our most famous failures is not an option. No. There is only one option – slowing down, grieveing over our misconduct, and living a life filled with newfound appriciation for the grandiose gift we were freely given.
Will I ever break the speed limit again? Chances are I will, albeit unintentionally, still fail at times. I do know this, though, there scarce will come a day when I drive 60 mph through that particular 25 mph stretch without slowing down and remembering the goodness of that one man’s grace. His road is safe with me.
Furthermore, when I am struggling to extend grace to those who have offended me, I will ever think of him.
No amount of punishment changes a heart as stubborn as mine. That’s why Jesus came extending lavish grace. He knows tickets don’t really faze us. Bit and bridle may change behavior, but only grace and mercy bind the heart to blithe obedience. That, my dear readers, is why the gospel works and prisons do not.