Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Ticket Trouble

As I have said in the past, I haven’t always been a pastor. Just like many of you reading this, I have done my share of things I wish I hadn’t. Looking back now, I see how incredibly disobedient to God I was, and at the same time, realize how fortunate I was to have a Heavenly father watching out for me.

My inability to comply with traffic laws was one of those areas of disobedience. I am no stranger to being pulled over by the police. I have had speeding tickets, fender-bender tickets and parking tickets. However, I have to tell you that I have now learned better, and I now drive much slower. If you see me speeding, you know there is a very good reason.

At one time, however, it was a series of parking tickets that got me into trouble. I had some very good friends who attended Clemson University. In fact, I met my wonderful wife through these friends. Being able to park right outside of an apartment building in Clemson is nearly impossible. You almost have to park in a handicap space to even get close.

I did not go to Clemson, so I thought it would be just fine to park in the handicap space. The first time I got a ticket, I just ripped it up and threw it away. I thought “They are just campus police; they won’t find me since I am not a student.” Furthermore, I was driving demonstrator cars from my dad’s car dealership. I drove a different car very frequently, so I thought that would make it harder for them to catch me.

Ticket after ticket came to be placed on my windshield, and one after the other I threw them away. Finally, I started to leave one day, and could not find my car. It was not where it was earlier! I went to the campus police station to inquire about it. They told me that they did indeed have my car and they would gladly turn it over to me when I paid the $375.00 fine that had mounted from my unpaid parking tickets. Of course, I had to come up with the money, and pay it.

I thought I had outsmarted the police. I thought I had gotten away with my crime. The Clemson police finally made me pay for my insolence.

We tend to be like that with God. We think that because other people do not see our sinfulness, God cannot either. We may not confess to believing that way, but our actions tell a different story. What do you do when nobody is looking that God doesn’t approve of? Would you do it if others knew? I rest my case.

Some of us are also like the lady in Calumet, Michigan, who got a parking ticket back in September of 1976, and sent the money to pay for it just last week. The ticket, a $20 bill and a note arrived at police headquarters last month in a plain white envelope with no return address. The note read: "I always had good intentions of paying it. I put it aside and every once in a while I would come across it and say 'Someday I'm going to pay it.' Now I think it's time." We always think we have more time to atone for our wrongs.

Wouldn’t it be easier if we just admitted to wrongdoings; to others and to God, before we are caught? Why do we think we can continue forever in disobedience to God with no punishment?
The Israelites had that kind of mentality. They thought they could just go forever worshipping other gods and denying the one who created them. They paid no attention to the prophets who told them to repent or risk God’s wrath. They thought He wouldn’t, or thought He couldn’t, carry out the promised punishment. However, in 586 B.C., not only was Jerusalem conquered by the Babylonians, but it was leveled and God’s temple was destroyed.

Many of us today have the idea that God isn’t there anymore. We think maybe He will not punish us for our insolence. We think we have gotten away with it and there will be no punishment, no judgment, and no hell. But one day, we will find our car that we parked illegally, is no longer in the place where we left it, and we will need to pay the price for our sin. Doesn’t it seem like a better idea to stop being so arrogant, pray to God, ask for forgiveness, and stop doing the things that displease God now, rather than pay the terrible price for disobedience before His throne later? Just confess your sinfulness to Him, ask Him to show you what needs to be corrected, correct it, and He will be faithful to forgive and reward you with life forever with Him.

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

No comments: