I got a parking ticket where I work at the hospital. While I was busy saving lives, (perhaps a slight exaggeration for effect) someone was checking my parking pass and found it to be expired. I have one that’s not expired, it just happened to be in a car I was not driving that day. “Honest officer, it must be in my other pants.”
I plopped down in the driver’s seat, cranked up the engine, and saw it waving to me through the windshield. I immediately knew what it was. This is not the first time this has happened. So mumbling under my breath, I reached out and grabbed the ticket from under my windshield wiper. Taking care of this issue is a little tricky. The parking people leave an hour before I get to the lot. I’ll have to see if my boss will let me leave early in the next couple of days to get there before they take off for the day. Banker’s hours, these parking commandos have. (I wanted to call them parking Nazis, but I don’t want to be harsh.)
I placed the ticket on the seat next to me, pulled out of the parking lot, and turned my car toward home. It’s super hot here in the south in mid-June, so I rolled down the windows in the car to circulate some air. The inside of my car felt like an oven. As I pulled out onto the highway the wind blew the ticket right out the window. I watched it as it blew down the street and out of sight. The sight of it made me smile. I wondered if that meant I no longer had to pay it.
Wouldn’t it be great if life worked that way? No more would we have to suffer consequences of bad decisions. They could all just blow out the window like my parking ticket. I even scolded God about this incident a little. Imagine that. Me, scolding God. I had a pretty good argument I thought.
Matthew had left the house really early that morning and had taken the car I usually drive to work. The one with the unexpired parking pass. Why, you ask? It’s a matter of parking order. My car was the last one in the driveway. Because he left out earliest, he jumped in my car and took it and my parking pass with it. Where was he going?
This is about the point in my argument with God that I thought I really had him. Matthew was leaving out early to go meet with a small group of men from our church over breakfast. He leads this group every Monday morning at a local restaurant. They pray, talk about man-ish stuff and encourage each other. So I didn’t have my pass because my husband was out doing the Lord’s work! So I shouted this to the sky through my windshield, “What? You couldn’t spare me one ticket? You couldn’t throw me a bone here? Let me get away with it this one time?”
He was quick to remind me that I chose to leave the parking pass in the car. This HAS happened before, he said. Did I not learn from previous mistakes with this issue? I did break a rule and I did not have what was required of me to park in a space reserved for hospital employees with correct parking passes.
In all honesty, I‘m not a fan of consequences. I’m a much bigger fan of grace. You know Grace… “unmerited favor”? Consequences are always inconvenient. They almost always require that you go to far more effort than had you just done what you should have done to begin with.
Sometimes God does choose to show us grace. Give us an undeserved pass. But often the most loving thing he can do is allow us to suffer those consequences we deserve. In this case, paying a parking ticket… After I explain why I no longer have said parking ticket… I think I’ll start off by asking if they ever saw the movie, “Gone With the Wind”.