I was driving down a California freeway on a superbly beautiful day of fluffy clouds on a background of clear blue sky and I just felt very happy. My happiness pressed my foot against the accelerator as the wind from the open window blew through my hair. I didn’t see the Highway Patrolman until the red lights from his cruiser grabbed my attention and I pulled over to the side of the road.
He came up to my side of the car and we went through what I assumed were the regular questions (since I’d never had a moving violation before). Then I said, “I don’t expect you to not write a ticket but my husband will ask me if I told you that he’s a police officer in Huntington Beach.” I gave Larry’s name.
He didn’t smile as he took my license and walked back to his cruiser. I knew I was getting a ticket and I knew I deserved it. I had nothing to complain about.
As I waited, it seemed like he was taking a long time but I didn’t know for sure.
Then he emerged from his car and walked up to mine. He handed me my license and said, “Next time drive the speed limit.”
I melted in gratitude and said, “Thank you.” I didn’t know if he had checked to see if Larry was an officer but I didn’t care. I didn’t have a fine and nothing on my record.
After I drove off, I slowly worked my way back into traffic and was surprised at my reaction. I drove below the speed limit. And I wanted to try to find him again on the road and shout, “See? I’m so grateful, I want to obey the law. Thank you so much for your mercy!”
I’ve never forgotten that experience primarily because it shouts to me of how growing more sanctified and thus obedient should come from gratitude for the mercy and grace God gives us. Just as I “knew” someone who could qualify me to avoid that ticket, our identity with Christ (because we know Jesus as our Savior) qualifies us to avoid the wrath and punishment for our sin that we deserve. And then out of the strong gratitude that we have not received what we deserve, we say, “Look, Lord! I’m so grateful I want to show it by obeying you.”
(This is excerpted from Never Ever Be the Same (Leafwood Publishers) http://amzn.to/1ITmLfy which offers Christians hope that they can change their destructive behavior through identifying their self-protective strategies and trusting God instead.)