Tickets and Advocates
Last Friday my sister Kelli and I were on our way to Grapevine, Texas. I had a weekend retreat, and Kelli was gracious enough to come along for the ride. You know how it is when you are driving with your sibling or a close friend? You are just chatting away not really paying attention to the fact that you are driving a vehicle 80 miles per hour down the highway. Yeah, it was one of those times. I came over a hill (Yes, we do have hills in Texas) and saw the 55 mph sign.
I immediately began slowing down as I almost simultaneously saw the speed limit sign and the police officer waiting for the next offender. Seeing those red and blue lights in your rearview mirror is one of the worst feelings to have while driving.
What an excellent beginning to my retreat weekend.
You know the drill: pull over slowly, frantically find your license and registration (hoping its even current), roll down your window, and try to act as nice and innocent as possible. The “Yes, sir” inevitably comes out. The officer was very kind and opened by asking if there was an emergency. Yes, there was an emergency: I was late to breakfast with about 20 women at IHOP. I’ve always wondered what would actually get to count as an emergency that would justify speeding. I almost asked but decided that was not the time or place.
For what felt like an eternity, Kelli and I just waited for the officer to come back with the verdict. I kept replaying my actions, wondering what I could have done differently. Then I started justifying my actions. It had to be that stupid town’s fault. I didn’t even see the sign so it must not be there. Or maybe a tree was covering it. Yeah, that was probably it.
Then I thought about trying to cry. I never get out of tickets and thought crying might be a nice touch. No tears would come.
I then moved to remorse and decided I had no defense for speeding. I broke the law. I was guilty and there was nothing I could do or say to change that. Isn’t that how sin is?
I know this is a typical example of standing guilty before the One who can set you free or make you pay the price. No matter how much we try to justify our actions or pass blame, the bottom line is we are guilty. We deserve death. I deserved a ticket.
What I like most about this story is the ending. The officer walked back to the car, gave me a written warning, and sent me on my way. Whew! What a sigh of relief! Okay, then I really almost started crying.
Grace and mercy. This event spoke volumes to me, reminding me that I stand before God on a daily basis deserving a “ticket” (really, I just deserve the death penalty. No trial. No defense.) He doesn’t just give me a written warning; He makes it as if I never sinned in the first place.
Wouldn’t it be great if every time you made an offense by breaking the law, opening your mouth one too many times, or choosing once again to walk into a sinful situation, that someone could step in and take the blame? The incredible truth is that we have that in Jesus. My experience last Friday was a simple reminder of the greatest blessings we could ever receive: grace and mercy.
I’ve heard grace defined as “not getting what we deserve” and mercy as “getting what we don’t deserve”. No matter how these words are defined, we experience both when we are clothed in Christ.
1 John 2:1-2 speaks directly to this: “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”
When we inevitably sin we have an advocate in Jesus. We have one who stands before the judge in our place and covers us as if we never sinned.
Wow. This really doesn’t need any more explaining. Let it sink in. Live in grace.