It’s Rachael Mirabella here, part of the second year Protege team at Christ Community. I want to tell you a real-life story that developed over the past couple months for me. It’s a story about the law and grace, and I hope it’s encouraging to you:
The story begins as I was driving home in mid-August from one of our youth group girl’s homes in Madison County. It was the afternoon, and I was headed back to my house after the day’s work with not a lot on my mind. All of a sudden, I saw flashing lights in my rear window and heard a siren. ‘Why am I being pulled over?’ I wondered aloud to myself. I checked my speedometer - only going 5 miles over the speed limit. ‘Well, good thing I just got my new license in the mail yesterday.’ My old license had been expired for 3 weeks.
When the officer approached my window, he asked the typical question, ‘Do you know why I pulled you over today?’ ‘No, I really don’t,’ I replied honestly. He told me: ‘You’re in a school zone and driving 15 miles over the speed limit.’ His words hit hard. To be honest, my first thought was that since I’m living off support, this felt like worse-case scenario. I don’t have money to just throw around for being irresponsible.
My first response was to ask for a favor. ‘Sir, I genuinely had no idea I was in a school zone. Is there any way I could get away with just a warning?’ You see, I was passing Athens Christian School that day. If you’ve never seen the school before, it’s set about a hundred yards behind a line of trees on Hwy 29. Granted, there’s a sign right off the road for the school and a flashing light saying ‘School Zone’, but in my lackadaisical mood and missing the typical signs for a school (like a building you can see), I was totally unaware.
Anyway, in short, his answer was no to my favor. He dropped my speed by 1 mph so I wouldn’t get any points on my license, then wrote me a ticket and sent me on my way. Driving home, I was unbelievably frustrated. I felt deserving of grace. ‘I really didn’t know I was in a school zone! I can’t believe he wrote me a ticket.’ But before I even made it home, it hit me … I did deserve the ticket. Whether or not I was aware of my breaking the law, I was breaking it. I owed the debt. So I decided to learn a good lesson - being judged under the law is awful; I don’t want to take for granted that in life, grace is mine in Jesus and I am no longer judged under God’s law. ‘Good takeaway, I suppose,’ I thought. But fortunately that’s only half of the story.
I kept putting off paying the ticket because I simply didn’t want to pay it. I knew it was due sometime in October, so I forgot about it all through September. For whatever reason, as the due-date approached, I continued to avoid paying it. Finally, four days after it was due, I got the ticket out to pay it online. Total amount due: $220. Way more than I expected. $170 for speeding in a school zone, and $50 for the late fee. ‘I am a fool,’ I thought, and ‘This would happen on a day when I feel especially connected to the Lord.’
A mere twenty minutes later, something incredible happened. I received an e-mail that read like this: “Your payment has been REJECTED.” ‘Oh no, what did I do wrong?’ I wondered. When I opened the e-mail, I was shocked by what I read. There was no record of my citation under the number I had entered or by my name and birthdate. Since the court date had passed, the case was considered closed and they would refund my money. I couldn’t contain my joy as I was blown away by grace and the metaphor for my life. My offense was erased from memory; it was as if it had never even happened. Over the next three days, I received 2 more e-mails, a phone call, and a letter telling me my payment had been rejected. They wanted to make sure I got the picture. My roommate described it like this: “The Lord is screaming grace at you.”
Yes, He was. And is. I’m listening. And forever grateful.
John 1:16, “And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”