Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Miss, Do You Know How Fast You Were Going (Toward Grace)?

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. - Matthew 5:17-18

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. - Matthew 7:12

Who would have guessed that the background check on ol' Matt Magill would have taken a couple of months?  This past weekend I finally received clearance (Clarance!) to go on a "ride along" with a friend and Texas Highway Patrolman.   

The trooper told me that the most "action" was on Saturday nights patrolling for drunk drivers after midnight.   I rode with him from 10pm - 2am and it was a thrilling, eye-opening experience.    After I was briefed a bit on the "do's and don't's", we perched just over a hill and waited for "lead foot" drivers, "swervers" or those missing tail lights, headlights, etc. to fly by.

The first time he flipped the surprisingly bright lights on and calmly said, "we got one" before stepping down on the gas pedal I got a rush of adrenaline that I could never have expected.  

I was (finally!) on the side of the law now and felt completely safe running down those violators, cleaning up the streets and serving justice.   I felt like the caped crusader all the while sipping my Diet Coke in the passenger seat and pretending I wasn't just like most of the people we stopped.

It increases my paranoia like looking into a mirror and seeing a police car.
- David Crosby, Almost Cut My Hair

Most of us have felt the soul-crushing, impending doom of a those flashing lights in our rear view mirror.  Knowing that I was on the other end of just such doom gave me a strange mixed feeling of power coupled with compassion for the poor folks we stopped that night (probably 15 stops in all).  It helped me to understand the awesome responsibility that these troopers have.

Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more. - Luke 12:48

The responsibility to both distribute and, at times, withhold the full force of the law is incumbent upon officers of the law.  What a perfect model our Savior is.  Full of discernment and wisdom Jesus always correctly recognized both repentant helplessness in lawbreakers and the reckless manipulative abuse of the law by some.

In Luke 7 a pharisee puts on a dinner for Jesus.  A "woman of the night" comes and brings an Alabaster jar full of perfume.   The woman wept just behind Christ and began to pour out the perfume on his feet.  The pharisee was incensed and doubted Christ's identity thinking to himself, "a real prophet would know what kind of woman (sinner) this was" (not knowing Jesus knew even his thoughts).

At this Jesus began to teach Peter and the pharisee that indeed it was this pharisee who was confused and had missed his opportunity to anoint Jesus' head with oil because of his pride.  He couldn't see who Jesus was because his focus was on his own righteousness and understanding of the law.   He was blinded to Jesus' power for focusing on himself and his surroundings.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”- Matthew 14:29-30

Juxtaposing the "self-centered and self-righteous" pharisee with the "helpless, hopeless" sinner woman who knew of her brokenness and thus, her need for Jesus' restorative unconditional love and grace Jesus goes on to explain that her love for Him was evidence that she had already been forgiven by Him. 

I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little. - Luke 47:7

The Patrolman told me at one point Saturday night that instead of a ticket he was going to give only a warning to one (clearly guilty) driver.    

For some reason he had decided to show her some compassion and grace saying, "people have been pretty good to me in my life when I didn't deserve it.  I think I'll be good to her tonight".   I was struck by his humility as he (like the pharisee) knew of her transgression but (unlike the pharisee and like Jesus) he saw fit to give her the forgiveness that she did not deserve.

All jobs are gifts from God and as such carry a responsibility of righteous stewardship.   The trooper described how sometimes just what people need to wake them up from their irresponsible, dangerous lifestyles is a DWI and a night in jail.   But other times people need Grace. *   I pray God's wisdom for him in the days to come.  

Knowing the relief of having received grace from a trooper before, I was thankful Saturday night, even on an old dark Texas highway, for the opportunity to see grace at work again.

Grace and Peace,

(* not to say here that drunk drivers are ever given a pass.  In this instance their incarceration is actually an act of grace to those whose lives are so clearly endangered by such moronic behavior......)

This Week... 

* Tyler Men's Gathering - 7am, Wednesday AM - Kings Cross Chapter 10
   @ 2 American Center, 5th Floor (Ritcheson Law Firm)

* The Magills @ The Moores Store - 8pm-11pm, Friday Night July 1st - Ben Wheeler, TX 

Next Week...   

* Men's Lunch @ Dakota's in Tyler, TX - Mondays @ 12pm - Keller's Kings Cross - Chapter 11


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