I looked in the rearview mirror at the police car pulling into the street behind me. Oh, please God, don’t let him be coming after me.
I pulled into the parking lot.
He pulled into the parking lot.
He pulled up behind me and turned on his lights.
Oh, dear God, what have I done now? There’s nothing like a police officer approaching your driver’s window to get your prayer life in order.
I rolled down my window, knowing that within a few short moments, he’d be hauling me off to the slammer.
“Ma’am, may I please see your driver’s license?”
“Well, officer, I . . . uhm . . . I don’t actually have my license with me.”
“Really? Why is that?”
“Last night, I went to visit my parents. They live about fifteen minutes from here. And, well, you see . . . it’s the funniest thing. I left my purse at their house.”
He didn’t seem amused. “May I see your proof of insurance?”
Oh God, please let it be in there, I prayed while digging through my glove compartment. Bingo!
I triumphantly pulled out the card and handed it to the man.
“Ma’am, this expired over a year ago.”
“Oh! I’m sorry. Let me see . . . I know the current one is here somewhere . . . Aha! Here it is!” I handed him the new card.
“Ma’am, this one expired last week.”
I picked up my cell phone and began dialing.
“Ma’am, who are you calling?”
“My husband. I’m hoping he can tell me where the current insurance card is.”
“Put the phone down, ma’am.”
I obeyed. A picture of myself in bold, black and white horizontal stripes flashed through my mind. I look terrible in horizontal stripes.
“I’m so sorry, sir. Could you please tell me what I did wrong?” I couldn’t believe my own ears. What did I do wrong? What didn’t I do wrong? “I mean . . . why did you pull me over?”
The man shifted from his right foot to his left. I’m not sure he knew exactly what to do with me. “Ma’am, you were going several miles over the speed limit. Right in front of the police station, I might add.”
“I’m sorry,” I told him. Why do I keep apologizing?
I knew my life was in his hands. He had every right to throw the book at me.
But then, he did something amazing. “Ma’am, I can verify your insurance with this card. I can also verify whether or not your license is current. If your license isn’t current, I’ll have to give you a ticket. Same with your insurance. If they’re both current, I’ll give you a written warning. Please stay in the car.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. Had he really just said what I thought he said? I knew my license was current. I knew my insurance was current. And yes, I knew I had probably been speeding. Was he really going to show mercy?
He was gone a loooooooooong time. Finally, he approached my window and handed me the expired card. “Everything checked out. I’m going to let you off with a warning.”
A warning? A warning?!?
I wanted to leap from the car and hug the officer. But I was afraid he might change his mind. Or charge me with assault.
“Thank you so, so much, officer,” I gushed.
“Do you have any questions?” he asked. He really was nice. It reminded me, once again, that our police officers are the good guys.
They protect us from the bad guys, and they protect us from ourselves. Their job is to keep us safe. And most of them really do care about the people they protect.
He had no reason to show mercy that day, but he did.
And it reminded me of another Good Guy. God knows everything I’ve ever done. He has every right to throw the book at me, to lock me up and throw away the key. But He doesn’t want to do that.
Oh, He loves justice. He doesn’t look kindly on evil. But He also knows that sometimes, we just mess up. We forget our purses, or we forget to put our current insurance cards in the car. We accidentally say the wrong things. We break His laws.
He also sees our hearts. And when He sees that we’re genuinely sorry for our mistakes, He forgives us. Though we don’t deserve forgiveness, He gives it. He shows mercy.
And I, for one, am really glad He does.
Joel 2:13 “Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.”