I got pulled over last Sunday night near midnight after pulling out of the “world famous” Dairy Palace. Reason? My lights weren’t on. I had no idea, since the officer turned the vehicle’s lights on to pull me over only 3 to 5 seconds (LITERALLY) after I had pulled out of the parking lot. I was completely baffled. Baffled and SAD. Added to my distress, which was great, was the fact that as I was trying to explain myself, the officer cut me off and wouldn’t let me finish my sentence. Almost as if to solidify the fact that there was no desire or openness to hearing my appeal. The officer had already determined to give me a citation, and there would be no stopping it.
But my explanation was going to have been so good! I was driving my grandmother’s car, since mine has been sick recently. It’s still so foreign for me to drive it, PLUS it doesn’t have automatic headlights. I feel confident that I would have realized my error and turned my lights on before I got any closer to the highway, before any real damage or danger would befall myself or anyone else. Also, I was driving wayyyy too slow to run over any unsuspecting pedestrians (which Canton doesn’t have on non-first-monday days anyway). I mean, barring some unforeseen calamity, there was NO way that I was causing anyone harm. Especially not from any obvious malicious intent. Still, however, my quiet and scared and humbled and entirely sober 17-year-old appearance did nothing to soften the officer’s demeanor. Listen, I realize that officer training probably demands that they be abrupt and tough. I’m glad. If not, they would probably get taken advantage of and not respected as someone in their position deserves.
But it still hurts to be a submissive lil girl who gets suspected of drunk-driving or reckless irresponsibility. Once the officer saw that I was not only sober but also meek, don’t you think I could have simply been given warning? Alas, I hardly ever get warnings. No grace.
So, I cried loudly all the way home (driving very carefully), wailing “Cops HATE me, I NEVER just get a warning, they AWLAYS think I’m awful and EVERYONE hates me.” - it’s been a tough few months, or I’d probably not have been quite so dramatic.
(AND, all this was made worse by a customer at work who had walked out on me the day before as I was trying to explain something. She didn’t like my answers, and when I tried to hand her off to someone who could help her more effectively, she got mad. Presumably because she felt that I disrespected her, who knows. But it stung and felt awful and she completely turned her back on me as I was mid-sentence.)
But anyways, guess what happened as I drove home after receiving my citation?!?!? God taught me that REJECTION is at the core of the GOSPEL. I always thought the Gospel was that Jesus died a horrible death for my sin. What I never truly realized before, was that Jesus was rejected by God – FOR MY SAKE. Just as I had been feeling unjustly “walked out on,” forsaken, defenseless, and unheard, Jesus had to experience the wrath of God poured out on himself because he chose to wear my sin and become the target of God’s rejection, since a perfect holy God cannot (and SHOULD not) tolerate sin. Perfect Jesus chose to be separated from the only perfectly loving relationship He’d ever had (with God the Father), crying from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” so that I could be reconciled and receive adoption in His place. Mercy! Compassion! Love! Only God could do that. Only GOD could love people who are altogether hateful and ugly and unlovable. As one of my favorite pastors says, “God doesn’t love some future version of us. He loves us from the start.” – paraphrase of Matt Chandler.
And I just kept thanking Him,
“Jesus, thank you for being my compassionate Priest! Thank you for being willing to listen to my hurts, even though I’m GUILTY! Thanks for bearing the rejection that I myself earned by my sin. And thanks for helping me to realize my guilt – I could never have been so humble as to repent of my sin without the help of God. You are so good!”
People, Jesus loves, and He alone can rescue. He alone is acquainted with every single hurt your soul could ever experience. I’m praying for you. I’m begging God to help you see Him as completely compassionate and loving, because only then can you understand the Gospel and repent of your sin, and only then can you learn to love God back.
2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
Believe. Repent. Accept.