My wife and I hadn’t spent the past 5 anniversaries together. But this past June 24th, we had the wonderful privilege of not just having dinner together, but also an overnight stay at a swanky hotel. Excited? You bet I was! And that might explain how while driving on our way to dinner I didn’t exactly notice the speed limit signs. It wasn’t an area I drive in very regularly and I thought I was just going with traffic.
(Cue the flashing blue and red lights behind me.)
So, I pull over while making the year’s biggest understatement: “I think I’m being pulled over.” Officer Whatshisname asks for my license and registration and the whole schpeel. You know the drill.
After receiving my ticket, we head on our way to dinner, none the worse for wear. Let me say that I think getting a speeding ticket on the way to your anniversary dinner may have sparked a bit of tension between another couple perhaps. But I married up. WAY up. And she was as relaxed and carefree as could be. No disapproving sighs. No awkward silence. No arms crossed, seething in frustration. Just love. Man, I love this woman.
I decided that I wasn’t going to just send a check for the ticket and be done with it, but rather I’d actually go to court. And when my day of reckoning came, the experience of that day reminded me of a wonderfully freeing truth. (You knew it would.)
I found my assigned courtroom and shuffled in with all my fellow common criminals. We sat down in what reminded me of the long wooden pews of my childhood church. One by one, the judge called each individual on that day’s docket and they approached the bench to converse about their particular offense.
Then the time came.
“Jeremy Varner”. My name echoed off the chamber walls. I approached the judge’s bench and looked up into the face of the black-robed man who held my life in his hands (or at least my license). “Mr. Varner, are you guilty or not guilty of speeding?”
“Mr. Varner, I see you have a clean driving record. Would you like to take a driving school course and have your ticket dismissed?” I’m pretty sure I responded, “That would be great!” The judge continued “Step to your left and the bailiff will explain the details, and you’ll be free to go.”
Admission of guilt leads us to freedom. That confession was not a sign of weakness anymore than breaking a bone and going to the hospital to have it repaired is a sign of weakness, or any more than having a busted pipe in your home and calling a plumber is a sign of weakness. Admission of guilt is essentially a cry of “I’m stuck and helpless.” But with God, our admission of guilt triggers the administering of His grace. Don’t confess your guilt and He won’t convey His grace. That doesn’t mean He’s cut you off from forgiveness; it just means you’re not taking what’s being freely offered because of your stubborn pride.
The best part of that day in court for me quite honestly was my admission of guilt. I had no problem pleading guilty because I knew that it was true. I didn’t argue it, I didn’t blame the officer’s equipment, I didn’t make excuses. I just said, “I’m guilty.”
Our church choir loves to sing a particular song and while I don’t know the actual title, I do know a poignant, repeated line in the chorus: “Jesus dropped the charges.” It’s a foot-stomping tune that revs the crowd up every time they sing it. But if I could, I would tweak the lyrics just a bit from “Jesus dropped the charges” to “Jesus PAID the charges!” When I admit my guilt, Jesus applies His blood. When I openly confess I’m at fault, Jesus openly declares my freedom.