It was actually a nice morning for a run! Clouds covered the lately searing sun, a breeze was blowing, and humidity hadn’t quite come to bite just yet. I began to cross one more neighborhood street before turning the same corner that I’ve turned hundreds of times, when I saw something.
It was the moment where someone turns the slow-motion button on your life, and the next few instances play out in vivid 3D.
I was about half-way across the street when to the right, an object caught my eye. A car. It was moving forward. The driver was turned completely to her right. Her mouth was moving towards the young lady passenger. She didn’t see me. Was she going to see me?
I froze. No, I moved. Away. And then… she braked. She threw her hand, palm open, over her chest. And we stared at each other.
I know my heart was racing, I can imagine her’s was as well. Her daughter had warned her. She was inches from my physical body.
And then… she gestured. It wasn’t an apologetic gesture, it wasn’t one of remorse. Her head shook from side to side, and her face squished up into a “shame-on-you” look.
I’d like to say I had a Christ-like reaction. I did not. In my heightened state of awareness, I too made a gesture. I lifted the arm closest to the big, bright-red, octagonal shaped sign that clearly reads S.T.O.P, pointed firmly, and yelled something that was surely lip-readable. Yikes.
I turned, and started running again.
Needless to say, I rehashed this over and over again for the next 8 miles. Emotions. How quickly they sway. In the instant of our reactions, she and I lashed out, we defended ourselves, we laid blame/fault. According to traffic laws, there was a breech. According to morality laws, I have no legs to stand on.
Just as I have run these streets a million times, she has driven her street a million times without incident. When I drive, do I have a perfect record? Absolutely not. In fact, my right bumper stares at me every time I walk to the van. Have I talked with my children, talked on the phone, glanced down at an inappropriate time? You bet ya! I had no justification for pointing a finger that, roles reversed, could have been pointed at me.
Would I have liked to extend grace and mercy? Actually yes. She hadn’t done it on purpose. In fact, in that moment, my heart went out to that teenage girl. It appreared she was getting quite the lashing, and so early in the morning. I have no idea was precipitated the discussion. I’m sure the mother had a reason for the talk, yet at the same time – she’s a teenager. She’s not a perfect person. None of us are. Perhaps grace would have bridged a gap where berating could not.
And yet, I turned and ran. She had stopped.
I’m not sure what took place in that car after I left. They never did pass me. Perhaps God had them stop for his divine reason. Perhaps it was a chance for a re-evaluation of priorities. Perhaps it was a moment to pause, stop, and extend grace. I’ll never know, but this I do. I prayed for that; with all my heart.
Ithat the driver would have a sense of the forgiveness I so desperately wanted to extend. I prayed the passenger would have a sense of gratefulness that she alerted the driver on my behalf. I prayed that moments in my life will stop me, help me to pause, and to react with grace instead of unmerciful justice.
When I think of ALL the moments that Christ has, and will continue to extend His undeserved mercy and grace to me, I crumble in humble awe. Lord, may I extend grace to myself in my human reactions. You give me these emotions, and you also teach me how to confess and repent. Thank you. But Lord, may I be pricked to practice the art of pausing. Pausing to allow your spirit too come in and boss my heart heart around. I want to see the love you have for your children. I want your wisdom to rule over my desire for temporal justice. I want to love like you love – beyond reason.
2 John 1:3
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.
What has STOPPED you today? What was the outcome?