musings of a saint and sinner

Thursday, January 28, 2010

like a nursing mother

Isaiah 49:14-16

14 But Zion said, "The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me." 15 "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! 16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.

Psalm 131

1 My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. 2 But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. 3 O Israel, put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore.

Isaiah 66:13

13 As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.

We often think of mighty images to describe God, and many of these images are used in Scripture. Warrior. King. Deliverer. Savior. Rock. Fortress. They are good images for us. Biblical images.

But sometimes we don’t think about the most tender image used for God in Scripture, the image that compares God to a nursing mother. This is not to say that God is female or anything like that, but God gives to us in our role as mother a way to understand what His love for us is like.

The nursing mother sustains the child from her own body. For anyone who has nursed, you know that for the first 6 months to a year, it is a lifestyle. You start out wondering you’re doing it right. There is sometimes pain…lots of pain…no matter what the La Leche League says. You can’t travel far because feedings are so close together. You have to eat nutritiously and drink lots of water. Other than maybe when you were pregnant, you’ve never been so hungry in your life! Ravenous really, since you are feeding not only yourself, but a little one. You get anxious when the little one goes on a nursing strike and refuses to eat. You cry and wonder what to do when your baby starts teething and cries with pain when trying to nurse. You find yourself on the verge of a breast infection and have to quit whatever you’re doing and head straight to bed. And then there is the time when baby starts getting teeth and she thinks it is extra fun to bite mom and get an exciting reaction! Wow! The pain! It consumes you and it is a sacrifice of yourself like nothing you have ever done before. It is a self-emptying.

And yet, even with all of the suffering that nursing brings, you find exquisite, amazing joy in being able to look down at that little, precious face, peacefully drawing sustenance from you! What a gift to be able to give of yourself in that way! And as you look at that little one, you know in your heart that you would do anything for them. You would do anything to protect them, to watch over them. When they cry, you feel it physically in your own body. When they laugh, your joy is unspeakable. The connection between you and them is palpable.

Not every mother is able to nurse. It is a personal decision and the actual act of nursing isn’t necessarily the point of the illustration that Scripture brings us. After all, in the world of the Old Testament, there was no formula. There weren’t many other options. We can be grateful for the many options a mother and baby have now, for imagine if a mother in ancient Israel had a low milk supply or trouble nursing. Possibly the child would die.

No, the point of the illustration is not that nursing is the only way for a mother to show her love. Rather, the point is that it is a picture of the self-sacrificial love that all mothers have for their little babies. For every mother, your life changes when you have a child. Your free time evaporates. Getting out is a major expedition, requiring the planning and coordination that a business executive must possess. Time with your spouse becomes more challenging. Your interests fade into the background. When people see you in public, they stop noticing you and start noticing your child. Your world revolves around diapers (and you find yourself describing their contents to acquaintances only to realize they aren’t so interested), sleepless nights (you never know you could get by on so little before), and occasional moments of the kind of exquisite joy you didn’t know was possible. It’s all about sacrifice and yet it is worth it all the first time your child kisses your cheek or says “Mommy.”

It reminds me in a small way of what Christ did for us….Philippians 2 says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”

Christ emptied Himself for us, just a nursing mother—or any mother, for that matter—empties herself for her child. The passionate, “mama bear” love that we have for our little ones, the love that is made of self-sacrifice and stick-to-itiveness is the kind of love that God has for us. The word used over and over again for God’s love in the Old Testament is “steadfast love.” Love that holds onto us, no matter how much the going gets tough. If as mothers we would be willing to sacrifice just about anything for our children, how much more is God willing to do for us? For Christ came and poured Himself out so thoroughly for us that He died for us and rose again. Through His steadfast love, we as mothers and as women are freed to love those who are dear to us. And every time we feel the passion of motherly love within our hearts, we can reminded that the way we feel about our child is very much like how God feels about us. Amen.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Christ became sin for us

Last night I was watching a past episode of the FX TV show 30 Days. It's a documentary-type show where someone is asked to go and live for 30 days with someone who believes completely differently from them on some issue. This episode was about a Christian farm boy who went to live in the heart of a gay neighborhood in San Francisco. At one point in the episode, the man encountered protesters of the gay lifestyle. They carried their usual hateful signs, but one thing that made me draw in my breath sharply was when one of these protesters shouted, "I love a man and His name is Jesus Christ and His blood is not HIV positive"! Yikes! First of all, it's an incredibly hateful thing to say.

But second of all, didn't this protester COMPLETELY miss the point of what the Gospel is all about? It is not about Jesus dying for us because we were so righteous. Romans 5:8 clearly tells us that Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners. The Gospel is about the Great Exchange. It is about Jesus taking all of our sin and brokenness upon Himself and giving us His righteousness, purity, truth, beauty, and place in God's family in return. It's a terrible deal for Jesus, but a fantastic one for us.

Martin Luther wrote in his Commentary on Galatians:
"And all the prophets saw this, that Christ was to become the greatest thief, murderer, adulterer, robber, desecrator, blasphemer, etc., there has ever been anywhere in the world. He is not acting in His own Person now. Now He is not the Son of God, born of the Virgin. But He is a sinner, who has and bears the sin of Paul, the former blasphemer, persecutor, and assaulter; of Peter, who denied Christ; of David, who was an adulterer and murderer, and who caused the Gentiles to blaspheme the name of the Lord. In short, He has and bears all the sins of all men in His body--not in the sense that He has committed them but in the sense that He took these sins, committed by us, upon His own body, in order to make satisfaction for them with His own blood....Christ was not only found among sinners; but of His own free will and by the will of the Father He wanted to be an associate of sinners, having assumed the flesh and blood of those who were sinners and thieves and who were immersed in all sorts of sin. Therefore when the Law found Him among thieves, it condemned and executed Him as a thief.

"This knowledge of Christ and most delightful comfort, that Christ became a curse for us to set us free from the curse of the Law--of this the sophists deprive us when they segregate Christ from sins and from sinners and set Him forth to us only as an example to be imitated...But just as Christ is wrapped up in our flesh and blood, so we must wrap Him and know Him to be wrapped up in our sins, our curse, our death, and everything evil."

So all this goes to say...this protester did not know his Jesus. The real Jesus Christ is in fact HIV positive. And He is in prison for a life term. And He bears the sin of the molester and child murderer. And He carries the weight of the great sin of genocide. And He is broken and abused. How do I know this? Because He has taken all of my sin and brokenness, and not mine alone, but also that of every person who puts their faith in Him. In fact, He has taken it already, once for all, when He died on the cross. We need only believe in His great promises and therefore be set free! When Christ hands over His blessings to us, we become the righteousness of God in Him. Hallelujah! What a great Savior! A Savior who is HIV positive. And a Savior who also carries the ugly hatred of the man protesting gays. As a Casting Crowns song says, "How far is the east from the west? The distance between two scarred hands." Thank you, Jesus!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

why is this world so anti-marriage these days?

So, I've been noticing something that is becoming more and more prevalent as a cultural norm. I know people have been living together for decades and that the Religious Right is always pointing to how the institution of marriage is in decline. But it seems like until recently there was at least some modicum of respect and desirability attached to marriage in popular culture. Lately, however, it seems like all I am hearing (particularly from women on TV) is how marriage ties a person down and how much they like to be alone and single. There is even an embracing of the "goodness" of divorce. While I fully realize that divorce is sometimes necessary due to abuse, neglect or infidelity, it has always seemed to me that divorce is a regrettable, sad event. It is sometimes the lesser of two evils, but I have always felt (particularly living through two divorces in my family) that is brings much sorrow and deep wounds. Where has this blithe, optimistic embrace of divorce in the name of personal autonomy come from? It frightens me even more if children are involved because such an attitude may blind the parents to the ramifications of their decisions.

At the same time, I can't help noticing the similarity between the blithely bitter ruminations of feminists who feel no need for men, and the super spiritualism of Christian young men that I know who seem more concerned with feeling gushy over God than getting married. The value of singleness--even in the Christian community--seems to be elevated over above the great soul refining value of marriage. I Corinthians 7 is often cited in the interest of preserving this so-called spirituality. But it should be remembered that I Corinthians 7's instructions to "stay in the state in which you were when you were called" (married or single) was spoken to people in some sort of crisis, perhaps of persecution. It is specific advice for a specific situation. In general, Biblically, marriage is the norm.

Sadly, in a fallen world there are some who desire marriage and never manage to find a partner. Or who struggle to find one. They should not be put down for this, for they are desiring God's good gift. Certainly they should be ministered to by the Church in their loneliness. Those who desire to marry but cannot find a partner are not the problem. The problem is those who are so desperate to hold on to their singleness at all cost (after all, if they were willing to marry, the problem of those who desire to find a partner might largely be solved). I know that there are some who are called to singleness, but before a person declares that this is their call, they ought to very carefully evaluate their motives for refusing marriage. Is singleness just one more way to not grow up, to stay without commitment, to stay set in one's ways? Or is it a chance to have more time for service? Single people are called to serve their neighbor too--so either way, you don't get out of that. I know some phenomenal single people who want to be married but are using the time in the interval to grow and to focus on serving others faithfully right where they are. This is a beautiful model for singleness--desired or not--and will prepare a person for marriage, if God should provide that good gift.

Marriage is a crucial gift of God to us as human beings because we are all too easily drawn in on ourselves. We are self-centered creatures. And if we are allowed to live alone, without commitment to relationships and without letting someone know us deeply, nakedly, within the context of absolute fidelity and commitment--we will draw ever deeper into ourselves.

God knows we need a lure to pull us out. Hence, falling in love. Falling in love gives us the courage to make a huge, radical commitment to another human being for the rest of our lives. When we marry, the rosy glow over the other person slowly fades--or maybe disperses in a burst--but finally we realize we have married another sinner (as Elisabeth Elliot says, "there is no one else to marry!"). We both must forgive each other. And we both need each other. And so we do as Ephesians 5 tells us and "submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." Nothing could be more counter-cultural than submitting to each other by putting another's needs at least equal to--if not below--our own. The feminists of the world tell us we are being a doormat and giving up our autonomy (yea to the latter, nay to the former). The super-spiritual tell us that we should just be playing our guitars on a grassy knoll and not messing with messy humans. Christ tells us, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself."

The amazing thing is that in the yielding (which of course does not happen all at once but is a gradual refining process), we find what mere autonomy could never give us. The depth of a love that has been tested by mutual mistakes and mutual forgiveness is to casual relationships as cheap wine is to well-aged wine. God never asks us to sacrifice unless He has something else far better to give in return for the sacrifice.

And so I think parenthood will be. My husband made the wise comment tonight that parenthood is God's way to get the married couple away from "smug married" syndrome into a further reach of caring for their neighbor. I admit to being slower onto the parenting bandwagon than the marriage one. And it is precisely because I love my autonomy. But Christ calls me outside of myself to my neighbor. Who actually happens to be inside me at the moment (but not for long!). Although I sometimes worry about all that I am giving up to be a parent, I am grateful too. I know that the rewards are great when we love our neighbor. And so I eagerly anticipate my neighbor's arrival on September 15.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

oh baby!

I've had some big changes in my life these days. Growing up, I always pictured myself married, always imagined who my future husband would be, always had a romantic heart. As I got older, I started to think about how relationships work and what qualities I wanted my relationship to have. So when my husband and I got married, it was like living the dream. I found a man who embodies the qualities of true love and whom I truly love.

But growing up, having a baby was never a huge part of the plan, if I had to be honest. My Mom was always complaining that I didn't want to play with baby dolls when I was a kid most of the time. I didn't give a lot of thought to how I wanted to parent. I always felt kind of awkward with children, perhaps partly because I had very few friends my own age as a child. As I grew older, I thought that in theory I'd like to have a baby, but later...

My husband is the opposite of me. He grew up wanting to have both a wife and a family. He spent his childhood years glued to the tube watching The Cosby Show and taking lessons from Cliff Huxtable (lately, I've come to realize that The Cosby Show actually is one of the most educational and encouraging tools out there to learn about parenting). He was really focused on the whole family goal and gave a lot of thought to how he wanted his family to be. I think that honestly, he gently nudged me into the whole family thing. When you love someone, the idea of having a baby with them becomes more desirable.

And then there were the strange urges I started to have last year. I would walk through our big house and it would just feel empty to me. It would feel lacking something. And then there is the thought that actually it is a little selfish to not have kids. Having kids calls me out of myself to my neighbor, as my seminary professor Dr. Paulson would teach. Having kids would enlarge my heart, which is all too easily focused just on myself.

I admit I still had/have some misgivings. Would I lose myself in the "mother" identity? Would I be a good mother? Was I maternal enough? Did I have what it takes?

But somehow my husband and I moved forward and took the step of faith. And now we are expecting baby number one in September. I admit to feeling alternately really excited and really freaked out, depending on my mood. But something has happened to me since becoming pregnant. Ordinarily, I am an exceptionally anxious person. I can sometimes obsess over an (often irrational) worry for days or even weeks. But since becoming pregnant, I have suddenly started to realize that I am embarking on a journey, an endeavor that is so much bigger than me that I don't even know where to begin to worry. I am being forced to trust in God, to trust in the One who is outside of myself. This baby in my belly is already calling me outside of myself to my neighbor. I am learning to take it all one day at a time, something I've never been good at. But this is so big that there is no other way to do it, really.

There have been moments already of staggering miraculousness: from the day we found out I was pregnant and just stared at each other in amazement, to the moment we heard the heartbeat of our little one for the first time. There have been moments also of staggering discomfort and earth-boundness. Nausea...wanting to gag at the thought of any food...leg cramps...exhaustion beyond anything I expected...crying EVERY TIME I watch a birth "A Baby Story" on TLC. The humble and miraculous are intertwined. It's a new journey, but I am so far out of my comfort zone I am forced to grow.

And the baby? Amazingly, a love and protectiveness for this little one whom I do not yet know is starting to grow in my heart more each day.

Thank goodness for my husband, who gave me a little push.

On to the journey...

Monday, December 31, 2007

Favorite movies of 2007

This is by no means an exhaustive list, and as usual I have not yet seen all of the important films released this year, but I thought I would include my list of favorites thus far.

I would venture to say that it was not as exciting a year for film as in recent years. I don't know if the writer's strike had anything to do with it or not. But there were still some wonderful examples of really enjoyable films. So here you go. Ratings are out of 5 stars:

Amazing Grace: Finally, a film about a Christian that is both well done by the standards of the art, and uncompromising in its message. You usually do not get both attributes in the same film. I loved the portrayal of William Wilberforce as someone who was tempted to disappear into a contemplative life but instead was called outside of himself to serve his neighbor. And he was used up for his neighbor. This is the true call of discipleship and it has been something I have thought about often since seeing the film. I also greatly appreciated the beautiful testimony given by John Newton in the film: "There are two things I know: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior." Amen! 4 stars.

The Bourne Ultimatum: Paul Greengrass plus Jason Bourne equals one explosive movie! I enjoyed this one more than the previous two (and I enjoyed them quite a lot). The cream of the crop of thrillers. 5 stars.

Dan in Real Life: With every new part I see him in, my respect for Steve Carrell grows. This guy is great making a fool of himself on The Office, great as a likable geek on The Forty-Year Old Virgin, and great as the sad but relatable romantic lead in this movie. This movie was an incredibly warm-hearted celebration of family life--both its joys and woes. It was also believable and honest. The chemistry between Julliete Binoche and Carrell is unexpectedly rich. And unlike most romantic comedies, the hero does not just make mistakes which we the viewer are expected to accept in the interest of the all-supreme self and its feelings (In the Land of Women, anyone?). Rather, in this film, we do see our main character making mistakes, but we also see him repent and grow. Bravo to one of the best romantic comedies I have ever seen! (For another treat by the writer and director, Peter Hedges, I suggest my favorite movie about Thanksgiving: Pieces of April. That film is one the most redemptive films I have ever seen. And both films are evidence that great films do not have to be depressing, and that films that leave you happy do not have to lack depth.) 5 stars.

Evan Almighty: For all of the jeers tossed at this movie by the press, you'd think it was just horrible. No, it isn't a masterpiece, but I actually found it quite charming...and did I mention I love Steve Carrell? This movie taught some beautiful lessons about the relationship between God and human beings. I love Morgan Freeman's regal and yet approachable portrayal of God. Art benefits me in this way, giving me a greater faith in God's character. My favorite line of the movie: When Evan tells God he cannot build an ark because he has plans and God laughs whole-heartedly (as if to say, "You're so cute!") and says, "Plans? That's a good one! He has plans!" (You've heard the quote...but I bet you never thought that was the way He'd laugh!) 3.5 stars.

Enchanted: Amy Adams rocks my face off. Her portrayal of the princess in this movie took me back to a wonderful place when I was younger and had a more optimistic picture of the world. I adore the innocence of her character. We so rarely see genuine innocence in film anymore. This movie just made me smile. The only part I didn't like was that it kind of fell apart at the end in that the princess ends up with the New York man instead of the man she has pledged her commitment too. Is being worldly wise really better? 3.5 stars.

Knocked Up: This will turn out to be my yearly favorite which is not for kids (or even teenagers, probably). But for grown-ups, this is a wonderful comedy with real heart as two young people who experience an unexpected pregnancy grow into parents. Genuine dialogue, believable scenarios, and an unexpected pro-life perspective. I loved how the characters grew through the course of the movie. And I laughed my head off. 4.5 stars.

The Lives of Others: Ok, I lied. This is another one that is not a film for kids, as there is some sexual content, but an insightful look at the world of Eastern Germany under communism. Humanizing look at a member of the Stasi who is transformed by what he hears on his surveillance headsets. The power of love and art to change people (no matter what Lenin said!). 5 stars.

Paris, Je T'Aime: Delightful film (somewhat reminicient of "Love Actually," but with greater artistic flair and depth), with 20 different stories from 20 diverse directors. My favorites were "Tuilieries" (with Steve Buscemi, directed by the Coen brothers), Bastille (so romantic and beautiful!), "Place des Victoires," "Quartier Latin" (with the fabulous Gena Rowlands), "Place des Fetes" (feels like a full movie with beauty, depth, and tragedy), "Faubourg Saint-Denis" (with Natalie Portman...feels like another full movie, with a surprise twist), and "14ème Arrondissement" (a beautiful, winsome piece). The only one that I really didn't care for was the vampire one. I suppose it might be romantic to people who like vampire movies, but I found it kinda gross. 4 stars.

Rescue Dawn:
I think I remember why I was OBSESSED with Christian Bale in high school...the man is an incredible actor and his commitment to the role is absolute. He actually ate live maggots, slept in the jungle and got leaches on himself that he had to pull off, lost a lot of weight, and bit into a live snake...all to make a movie about surviving escape from a prison camp in Laos during the Vietnam War believable...and boy is it! Great director and ensemble cast too. 4 stars.

Spiderman 3: The best of the Spiderman movies, in my opinion. Amazing special effects, and a compelling story with great relevance to the struggle against sin in the Christian life. I couldn't help repeatedly thinking of Romans 7. 4 stars.

Films that will probably make it on my favorite list (but which I have not yet seen yet):
3:10 to Yuma
The Kite Runner
Lars and the Real Girl
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

Thursday, November 08, 2007


This Sunday, I am called to preach on Luke 20:27-38 in my congregation and as I study and pray and try to figure out this confusing passage, I find that I am really at odds with much of the teaching out there about heaven. In this passage, Jesus is confronted by the Sadducees, who don't believe in the resurrection. They are trying to come up with arguments to trip Jesus up. So, they come up with a hypothetical situation in which one woman keeps having her husband die, and then remarrying the next brother (in a chain of seven brothers). None produce offspring, so the Sadducees try to prove a case against the resurrection by announcing that it's impossible to discover who is the woman's husband in the resurrection. This is the Biblical equivalent of, "Could God make a rock so big that even He couldn't lift it?" It's a riddle, meant to trip Jesus up and get Him to say there is no resurrection, or to just discredit Himself in some way. Jesus replies that they have missed the point, and that there isn't marrying or giving in marriage in heaven. That isn't the point though...the point is that there is indeed a resurrection, and that that is good news.

Here's the problem that I see: this passage of Scripture is used all too often to preach a mystical in which physical matters fade away while spiritual concerns are elevated. Heaven is seen as a mystical union between spirit beings (us) and God. Almost every thinker/theologian/commentator I read on this passage turned it into something of this nature. And I think that's a big problem. Christians believe in a fleshy (not fleshly) Messiah. We believe in an incarnate God, who walked among us, who put on flesh and bone. We believe in a God who created matter and relationships, for His glory. We believe in a God who created marriage "because it is not good for a man to be alone"--and this was before sin was brought about in the world! Furthermore, we believe in a Jesus who said of marriage, "what God has joined together, let not man separate." If God forbids us to destroy the oneness of marriage, which He has created, then why would He destroy this union? Sure, there are dicey issues to figure out, like what about somebody like Elisabeth Elliot who married 3 wonderful Christian men (she was widowed twice)? But maybe that's the point of Jesus' story: heaven is much more than we can imagine. And marriage may well look different in heaven than it does on earth. But the relationships we build on earth do not just float away. Being in the kingdom of God is so thoroughly relational, and it is brought to fullness and completeness through the koinonia or fellowship we have with other Christians.

The bigger picture here is not to toss out a view of heaven which includes a restored creation, a restored earth. Romans 8 tells us, "We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies" (NIV). Note those key words: creation and our bodies. This is talking about something very physical and real. We see that from I Corinthians 15 that the body we will be given will be different from those on earth, like a seed is planted to grow into something more majestic. Who knows, maybe we will be able to stick our hand through people! But the relationality and the fulfillment of all that God intended in His creation of the Garden of Eden seems to me to be certain. In 2 Peter 3, we see that all that is will be destroyed, but then there will be redemption and re-creation, "in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness" (NIV). Heaven is a place where "'the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away" (Revelation 21:3-4, NIV). And so, we are exhorted that when our loved ones who are believers die, we are not to "grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus [at the Second Coming] those who have fallen asleep in him" (I Thessalonians 4:13b-14, NIV). Here we see that part of Jesus' Second Coming includes the restoration of relationship.

The picture of heaven that I hold to is that heaven is God's new creation. He has already given us the New Adam (in Jesus Christ), and He will yet give us the New Garden of Eden, where relationship and life are restored to be as He originally planned them to be--and maybe even better! If marriage and our other relationships look different in heaven than they do on earth, we need to trust that those relationships will be better than they were on earth! We will not be random spirit beings floating around, but relational beings, in unhindered relationship with God and each other. There will be a wholeness to our relationship. Heaven will be like a big party with your family, but without sin. It is being together in relationships, with God at the absolute center of it all.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Lessons on unmerited favor...from a traffic cop!

So today I was in a BIG HURRY. I had bread to bake for a confirmation illustration, youth program stuff to set up, and a trip to Grand Forks to make to do a hospital visit and some quick shopping. I was racing through one of the small towns on the way to Grand Forks today, and really preoccupied with the busyness of my day. How was I going to fit everything in? Before I knew it, I had hit a lower speed zone and then another...and I was noticing the changing speed limit late. I was about to call one of the church secretaries on my cell phone when I realized that a police car was behind me with flashing lights.

Now. You have to understand. I pride myself on my safe driving. My flawless driving record. I have huge disdain for bad drivers. I really look down my nose on them, to be honest. And I have never been stopped by a traffic cop, since I got my driver's license (almost 10 years of record-free driving). So, I was a little shaken. Which might be why when I stopped the car and put it in what I thought was Park, I really put it in Reverse. As in, heading straight for the traffic cop who was obviously already stopping me for a violation. He honked his horn at me, and I got stopped just in time, vigorously waving my hands to show that it was an accident. "I'm sorry! I'm sorry!"

He told me that I had been going quite significantly over the speed limit, and he had been trying to get me to slow down, but I was still going over. Plus I almost backed into him. I must have looked pretty shaken up...Ok, I was literally shaking, trying to find all my paperwork, and so on. He could have thrown the book at me. I mean, I was really speeding, and I almost ran into his car.

But instead, he was merciful. He saw I was shaken up. When I was getting my paperwork out of the glove compartment and trying to sift through it to find my registration, he said, "Looks like you're like everybody else, with lots of papers in there." And then he pointed out my registration for me, which I was having trouble finding. He took my license and registration, saying, "I'll run these. Why don't you try to find your insurance card while I'm doing that?" Thank goodness. It took me several minutes to find it, in my nervousness. I was sure I was getting a ticket. Maybe even a really, really big ticket, given what I'd done. And I deserved it too. But then he came back and said, "No citation today, just a warning. Buckle up and slow down." He was so nice about it. I couldn't believe it! What a picture of unmerited favor...or grace! The policeman who stopped me for a violation actually ministered to me! Who would have thought it?

Reminds me of what Jesus did for me...

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