Over the years I have received quite a number of traffic tickets. The number has gone down in recent years I am proud to say. I believe the last time I was stopped was over ten years. I was driving my 86 Camaro with personalizes license plates. The plates read UR4GIVN. You are forgiven! A Deputy Sheriff stopped me for driving too fast for conditions. It was foggy. He asked for my driver’s license, insurance card, registration, and the results of my emissions test. Fortunately I had them all in an envelope that said on the front “FOR THE POLICEMAN.” He walked back to his car and seemed to be there for a long as I sunk lower in my seat as my neighbors drove by. They all knew my Camaro because I used it like a truck.
Finally, the officer came back and said everything seems to be in order. Then he asked me: “what do you do?” I sunk a little lower in the seat and said: “I’m a pastor of a church.” He said: “well, Pastor Hausch, you are forgiven – now slow down!” And I have, by the way. The man taught me a lesson about God’s grace.
I have another “ticket” story. A police officer stopped a woman because her young daughter was riding in a car without the required booster seat. He could have written a ticket for a traffic violation. Instead he asked the mother and daughter to meet him at a nearby store where he personally paid for the needed car seat. The single mom was going through a difficult time and couldn’t afford to buy a booster seat.
Although the mother could have received a fine for her misdemeanor, she walked away with a gift instead. Anyone who knows Jesus has experience something similar. All of us deserve a penalty for breaking God’s laws. Yet, because of Jesus, we experience undeserved favor from God. This favor excuses us from the ultimate consequence for our sin, which is eternal death and eternal separation from God. The Bible says: “He (God) was so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son (Jesus) and forgave our sin.” Ephesians 1:7; UR4GIVN!
Some refer to grace as “love in action.” When the young mother experienced this, she later remarked, “I will be forever grateful! As soon as I can afford it I will be paying it forward.” This grateful and big hearted response to the officer’s gift is an inspiring example for those of us who have received the gift of God’s grace.
In this Lenten and pre-Easter season we should be thinking about how we might also pay it forward by sharing with someone who needs to know about the greatest gift of all that they too can receive. Our special services might also be a way of sharing this gift by inviting someone to come with you. Those services include: Palm Sunday, the Passover Seder, Good Friday, and of course, our Easter services which will again include a fabulous breakfast.
Remember Jesus is the TICKET to eternal life and UR4GIVN!