Tuesday, April 2, 2013

From Leadfoot to Cruise Control. By Grace.

I’ve blamed it on being a Boston native.
On living in the boonies ‑ with a long straight highway my only link to civilization.
On perpetually running 5 minutes late, while being unwilling to actually ARRIVE late.
But the bottom line is the same: I am a serial speeder. (And I’ve got the tickets to show for it.)
Sometimes, years pass without a ticket. Other times, I’ve gotten 2 or 3 in a short timespan, much to the chagrin of my husband – who, with affection and exasperation, has nicknamed me “Leadfoot” and “Danica.”

With each offense, I’ve gone to court. I’ve used my birthday money or sacrificed some personal luxury in order to pay the fine. In other words, I’ve done something that would help me feel the sting and the shame of my law-breaking.

Did that convert me from speed demon into law-abiding driver? Well … no. All it produced in me was an eagle eye for police cars; I was more careful about getting caught.

But last October’s ticket was different. This time, something happened that provided me with a far different, far more powerful incentive (no, I am not presently incarcerated). I was having dinner with a friend who actually works at the court where I was slated to appear, and laughingly told her I’d be stopping by her office soon. Immediately, she offered to take the ticket, in spite of my hesitation to relinquish it. (How would I ever learn if I didn’t pay?!) She insisted, then called me a few days later to report that the fine AND the points had been removed. Why? Because I was her friend. And to the officer who had pulled me over, that was enough.

This unexpected gift and its beautiful result rings with the melody of the gospel. I don’t speed anymore. Not from a sense of shame that I’ve done wrong, but from the glorious realization that God’s love for me overcomes my every offense against Him (even my driving ones).

The law tells me what’s right and wrong; yet it cannot create in me a positive desire to obey. Instead, it creates shame and a fear of punishment, followed by a sense of having paid my own debt, once I’ve written that check.

But grace — my due punishment wiped away by a merciful God, without a court appearance or payment — begets love and joy and obedience. (In this case, it also begets a heartfelt commitment to use my cruise control.)

Can we just be honest here? Grace isn’t fair! It’s counterintuitive. It’s offends our sense of “if-then.” I mean, if I “get away with” speeding, won’t I just do it again? Even my sons recognize the audacity of my unexpected pardon. “But Mom, how are you ever going to learn if you don’t have any consequences?” one son asked me, apparently concerned for my speedster soul.

Many Christians believe ‑ and teach ‑ a qualified, watered-down grace; a lukewarm substitute that pales in comparison with the radical, extravagant, all-encompassing grace that God has shown us in Christ. Perhaps our hesitation to embrace God’s immense grace is from the same heart as my son’s: concern that we’ll never be motivated to change if we are truly and fully freed from our debt. 

All I know is this: I no longer speed. I don’t want to trample on the grace that God has shown me. Romans 2:4 tells me that it is God’s kindness that leads me to repentance. And this repentance is joyful!

So, driving the speed limit has become yet another way that I worship my Saviour.

His grace has forever changed my “leadfoot” ways.

His grace has forever changed me.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,
made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—
it is by grace you have been saved.
Ephesians 2:4-5

Recommended Reading:
Holiness by Grace, by Bryan Chapell