The Blue Lights of Mercy
Last week, while driving the kids to the ball field, I was talking to Janie about something in the rear view mirror. I looked up suddenly at the truck in front of me who had decided to turn left. He was stopping quickly, so I decided in the spur of the moment, to go around him instead of slamming on my breaks, throwing my kids forward in their seats, and causing havoc in my family van. At this particular spot in the two-lane road, there was an uninhabited right turn lane, which turned into a city dump. It was after-hours so there was no traffic needing the lane, so I decided to use it… illegally.
The next time I looked in my rear view mirror, my eyes filled with blue from the twirling, blue lights atop the car behind me. My heart sunk, not because I had been caught, but because I knew I had done wrong. This cop was completely justified in pulling me over. I made an illegal move and he is an enforcer of the law I had broken.
I pulled forward to a spot on the side of the road and he followed me and stopped. He got out of his car and when he reached by window, I made no excuses. I apologized for doing the wrong thing. He asked what was going on, and I explained that I was talking to my kids and was not paying attention to the truck in front of me. I admitted I didn’t want to slam on my breaks with the kids in the van. He said he understood and asked for my license. I gave it to him, he carried it back to his car.
When he came back, he returned my license and let me go on my way. He was very friendly, said hello to the kids, and told me to “be mindful of my surroundings.”
There are a couple of lessons here. First, when we are wrong, we’re wrong. There are no excuses to be made. We cannot justify breaking either man’s laws or God’s laws. When we make mistakes, we must admit our mistakes. We are to “confess,” which literally means to agree (1 John 1.9). Confessing is telling God, “You are right, I am wrong, I am sorry, I will do better.”
Second, when we are wrong, we must be repentant enough to admit it. If I were to argue with the policeman, I doubt he would have been as gracious. An unrepentant heart is a heart that needs to be fixed, humbled, and corrected. A repentant heart is easier to forgive. If we expect God to forgive us, we must repent and change (Acts 3.19).
Third, that policeman showed me mercy by not giving me a ticket. He showed me grace by being kind to me and my kids, even though I deserved the ticket. God does the same for us. He is merciful to our sins and guilt. He is gracious to us by showing us kindness (Titus 3.4-7).