No this is not an ode to Tom Petty or Tom Cruise.
So let’s say you get pulled over. Let’s say your plates have expired. Let’s also say you never registered your car. And let’s say it took you a year to get caught. And now you have a court date where you have to appear and tell the good judge why you took so long to register your car and fess up to your general laziness and foolishness.
Let’s also say this was enough to get your butt to the DMV and actually register your car, which surprisingly took about 20 minutes from the time you walked in the door to the time you were screwing on your new plates. Ridiculous, you think to yourself. I could have saved myself a lot of guilt and shame, not to mention the scolding from the kind police officer and the shaming look and head shaking from the nice DMV clerk who told you it was a good thing the kind police officer didn’t tow your butt. Well, not YOUR butt – your car’s … um… butt.
Anyway, this is much like the weight of sin. Not that registering your car is that heavy a sin – but knowing you should do something and not doing it is against the law and therefore it’s sin. More or less. I’m not going into the moral obligation to abide by the laws of the land and/or my personal opinion on whether or not registering your car should be mandatory or not. I hate bureaucracy and I feel that laws are made to be broken and authority exists to be questioned… 🙂
But this blog isn’t about any of that. It’s about how you worry about getting caught. How you do get caught and how now you can’t quite move on because you have this pending court date which is over a month away in another town. It just weighs on you. It hangs over you. It swirls around you. And you just can’t wait for it to go away.
And you learn your lesson. It was that moment when you start beating yourself up the second the lights and sirens came on behind you – while you were speeding down I-64 – and he was lenient with me. I know this is making someone somewhere mad.
And let’s talk about that. Even when someone is forgiven – even when I was shown great mercy, if not justice – don’t we react? Like hey! That’s not fair!!! She totally should have gotten towed! Or something. At least a ticket for speeding. But no. All I got was a court summons which will probably be a fine of some sort and I hope it’s not incredibly high, but I also know full well that I deserve it. I broke the law. I know I was doing it. And I knew in some ways that I was going to get caught. And then there are consequences to getting caught. And maybe in my head I either thought there’s a chance I won’t get caught, or there’s a chance that the consequences won’t be all that bad. I mean how much could they fine me? Eek. How much COULD they???
The reality is that there are far greater sins committed. My heart is weighing heavy over all the many ways I have broken the law, too many to name. The curse of sin weighs me down, rearing its ugly head from time to time. Doubt and fear plague me, lurk around every corner, the enemy searching for ways to devour me, causing me to not trust in those I love, not trust in the God who is Love.
“My sin not in part but the whole is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more!! Praise the LORD!! Praise the LORD, o my soul!!!”
The words echo through my head, again and again. He has paid His own blood for my soul! For all time past and all time present and all time to come, I am ransomed and free. And whoever has been set free is free indeed! Why do I carry the sin on my heart? Why do I let it burn into me, like holding a scalding hot pan straight from an oven? I have a mitt! I have a pot holder! I have a way around this! Why do I give in to the shame and the despair?
It is well with my soul.
And when we are free, we are free to fall and we are free to fly. You watch a bird, an eagle, an owl. They let go of where they perch and they fall for a time. But they are made to fly. They are made to catch the air – I don’t know the physics – but they do it and they soar. And sometimes it isn’t until we have fallen from grace, really screwed up colossally, that we learn to fly. Sometimes we have to be faced with, wrestle with, get knocked down by, be broken in half by, our sinfulness – the depths we will go to and the darkness of our hearts – in order to really even begin to see the greatness of our Father’s love for us – how deep and how wide and how long and how far He will go to pursue us, to hunt us down, to win us back.
Wherever you are in the struggle right now reading this – elevations of soaring in His grace, or plummeting, wingless and broken by sin – know that in Him, you are free. You are free indeed. He has paid in full. He has redeemed you. You are His and you have been from before you were born and will be for all eternity. “And Lord haste the day!”
But how often do we fall back into the feeling that there’s this court date out there? We’re still waiting to stand trial. Because the realities of life is that there are always consequences. There’s always fall out, fees to pay, excuses to give, pleas to make, mercies to impart, forgiveness to accept, and punishment to endure. We still see our sin as prison sentences, because someone has to pay. We can’t just wipe the slate clean and say oh well, that happened, let’s move on.
Or can we? More to the point, MUST we? How can we? It seems an assault to our sense of justice. Or maybe it appeals to our rebellious nature, like ahaha I got away with it. But no matter how things turn out and no matter who gets what, the gravity of our failures meets with the exhilaration of the force of the Gospel and our hearts of stone and sorrow turn into grateful joyous wings. We are free to fly. We are free to love others unselfishly and fully, seeing them as noble created beings – just like us. We are free to be grateful to those who forgive us and show us mercy. We are free to forgive others and show them mercy. And that is free indeed.