Monday, September 14, 2009

grace and 84 miles per hour...

Last Friday I crawled into my car at 11:03pm half-dead and exhausted after an epic youth event. I reached for my cell and placed a phone call (Strike one!). I knew no one was at the stop sign so I casually paused and performed a California stop* (Strike two!). At the main boulevard I slowed down before making a right turn, but didn't make a complete stop at the red light. Since no one was there, it didn't matter, right? Wrong (Strike three!). While I was chatting [illegally] on the phone, I saw red and blue lights flashing and heard an ominous, Pull over to the side of the road, now! I hung up my phone and felt my stomach drop into the center of the earth. I prayed for mercy and grace as I thought of the impending ticket, insurance hike, and another point on my driving record.

A miracle of divine reciprocity occurred when CHP officer let me go without due punishment. In Mother Theresaish fashion, I cupped his hand in mine and said, God bless you, officer! God bless you, swore I'd be a better driver, and thanked God for the grace He'd given (Eph. 4:7). In my hubris I thought I had learned my lesson and had changed my ways due to the lavishing of grace bestowed upon me. But when I was pulled over on Sunday afternoon for speeding, I was completely taken back because there was no way I had been speeding in a 15-passenger van?!

I clocked you going 84 miles per hour, m'am. I didn't even know a 15-passenger van could go that fast. I apologized again and handed him my license and registration on cue. I already knew the routine.

I was embarrassed and humiliated that I had once again broken the law. I promised. I vowed. I swore I had changed my evil ways. But like Peter warns, I had been free from the things that defiled me through knowledge in Jesus Christ, but once again I had been overcome by sin. It's now worse this time because I knew I had been given grace, yet sinned again. Woof woof, oink oink, people. I'm the dog who returned to her vomit and the pig who returned to the mire (2:20-23). I knew the law, I sinned, I deserve punishment. But we all do.

A miracle of divine reciprocity occurred in the form of a human man who willingly took our punishment for our error and sin (1 John 4:9). We should be guilty, but we are free. What do you do with this grace? Without realizing it, I had mingled in mud and slurped my vomit after drinking freely of grace. But here's the good news: Grace doesn't run out. If you have tasted grace and gone back to your vomit, you can come back and be forgiven. How do I know this? Theologically: 1 John 1:9. Practically: The officer walked to the window, handed me my license and registration and said, The Lord works in mysterious ways.

*Why is it called a "California stop" if you can't do it in California?!

14 comments:

Cindy A. said...

HAHAHA, sorry B! But I could see your face as I read this post because you had told us at the retreat about being pulled over on Friday night. But I kept reading and bam! You got pulled over again. :D Thank you for sharing and letting me know you're just as real as the rest of us.

I'll be praying for your driving skills! Love you!

Hugs,
Cindy A.

Unique said...

In the church van? No way it can go that fast! haha...
B, I love you for being so open about your driving issues. Hey, at least you were able to blog about His amazing grace because of it :)

Sara Goetz said...

That's the best blog post I've read in a while - even down to the picture. Thanks for sharing and making such a deep theological truth SO VERY RELEVANT!!!

Diandra Ann said...

sometimes i think your labels are the best part of your blog!

want to take traffic school with me and david? :)

Forgiven said...

For real though!! I love to read your blog because it reminds me that we are who we are (sinners) but by the grace of God we are forgiven!! Thank you Jesus. When will we learn? >>>>In the famous words of someone I know.....
I dunt knooow... lol...it's funnier when he says it.

Thank you for your blog...look forward to it everyday.

Kelly Langner Sauer said...

Wow. Just wow. I should have my husband read this. Not as license to continue speeding, but wow. What a picture of grace.

christy said...

Thank for your great example regarding grace...sometimes grace is a subject that's hard to really accept becaue of how sinful we r and how good God is....it's amazing how much God loves us...

Bianca said...

cindy and unique: talk about ironic, right?! i totally spoke about that at the retreat and then it happened again. i'm slowing down and stoping at all red octagonal signs :)

sara: thanks for the love. i had to post a picture of CHiPs! that show was one of my favs.

d: i would totally go with you both... if i hadn't already gone?! i know, i know, it's horrible. ugh. my insurance is insane :(

kelly: i hope your husband walks away with not just an ity bity picture of grace, but ALSO the information that my insurance has doubled in six months. speeding + tickets = waste of money :)

christy: grace is this HUGE concept that is so far beyond me. this small example of grace PAILS in comparison to how great and deep His grace covers us. may we never use this grace as a license for sin.

donna o said...

"*Why is it called a "California stop" if you can't do it in California?!"
I bet it has something to do with all the sunshine. We NEVER speed in the northeast---hee hee!
Lessons learned---OY VEY! to use some old yiddish :0). Thanks for being so candid and giving me a laugh!

Anonymous said...

I can picture you being all sweet and lovely trying to get out of that ticket.. guilty here too and i got one too.. the best part we learned our lesson. yes, indeed

meg said...

ok. so i love your blog. i have it on my blog roll to check everytime you update.
you are an amazing writer with perfect expression!

p.s. how did you add 'reaction' to the bottom of each post? im dying to know. i love that feedback!

shoot me an email! hope you are having a great day bianca.
take care,

megan (stenson) brewer
freshlypickedbyme@yahoo.com

(freshlypickedbyme.blogspot.com
fivebrewers.blogspot.com)

OksanaJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Krista said...

It's called a Michigan stop here (you know, the type were you pause instead of stop).

:-o

Michelle said...

Makes me think of the song "The Alter and the Door" ^__^

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