Sunday, September 24, 2017

Rules and Mercy

I am a rules keeper. Childhood teachings? Conscience?  Maybe I just take comfort in knowing there are rules and I know what is expected of me. Perhaps I actually like to live by Biblical principles that tell us to respect our laws.

Recently I came head to head with the consequences of broken rules.  It was jarring! I mean, how do you feel when you look in your rear view mirror and all you see are white and red lights flashing?

The past few weeks had been filled with unexpected plans.  A death in the family meant a last minute airplane trip to Portland, OR. While there, the cold that was quietly infiltrating my system, decided to go full force, forcing me to take rest time.  My return flight got me home but drained my low energy reserve rushing from one end of the airport to another to my final connection.

I had a day and a half to turn things around before I headed out on a previously scheduled speaking road trip. My friend/ministry partner/travel companion took care of most of the driving responsibilities, allowing me to rest.  We had comfortable accommodations and we marveled at how God met us at every event, always making provision.

Because Michelle drove my car most of the way, on the last leg it just seemed as though I should take some driving responsibilities.  I took the wheel. Big mistake.

We were not far from home as we cruised down a four lane with little traffic.  I was heavy duty into conversation when suddenly Michelle alerted me to the flashing lights behind us!   I looked in my rear view mirror and ….yes!  My first thought was, “he must want me to pull over so he can pass.”

And then Michelle, in her very sweet way, said, “Judy, you were speeding.”  Yikes! I pulled over to the shoulder of the road and turned to my friend; a word exploded out of my mouth that should not have been expressed! Seriously, we were just coming back from a trip where we were sharing Jesus with women…and there I go! How quickly sin asserts itself when I am under pressure!

This officer of the law approached my window, politely sharing with me how much over the speed limit I was going. GASP!  (Me, the “rules keeper”?!) So what happened?  Simply this…I allowed myself to be distracted (talking!) and paid no attention to my heavy foot on the gas.

I looked this kind officer in the eye and told him I had no excuses. None. I handed him my license, etc. and he went back to his car.  I looked at Michelle and said, “I am totally busted!” Then I apologized to her for the word that had flown out of my mouth.  (I am so thankful for a friend who will speak the truth!)

The officer came back saying, “You have a pretty clean record”. With that statement he returned my license, etc. and told me he wasn’t going to ticket me. WHAT?!  I was totally guilty.  He told me to slow down.  I thanked him profusely.

So, what do I get from all of this?  Two things:
1.      There are times we allow life to distract us; we don’t follow the rules.  Not because we are purposely disobedient but because we are not paying attention. The results can be the same, no matter.  Maybe it’s poor eating habits that result in an unhealthy body.  Maybe it’s using our finances without planning and we run into a crisis.  But sooner or later that light flashes in the rearview mirror reminding us the gig is up.  It’s time to pay attention; time to bring discipline back into the picture.
Proverbs 12:1 says, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.”
2.     Sometimes there is amazing mercy when we mess up. Honestly, I did not deserve going ticket free.  I was SO guilty! And the mercy that officer gave me was undeserved. We don’t pick those moments; God does.
Romans 9:15 quotes God’s statement to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,…”

Is God trying to get your attention?  Whether it’s consequences or mercy, God ALWAYS approaches us out of His great love. Is a change needed in your life?   Whatever your current situation, maybe today is the day you get on your knees and thank Him for His discipline AND His mercy.

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