I’ve been thinking about grace a lot in the last few weeks, ever since I had the wreck. I’ve been driving since I was fifteen; I’ve been driving by myself since I was sixteen. And the only wrecks I’ve ever had were caused by someone else. So this is a new experience for me: dealing with the guilt of being one who caused it. I’m just so thankful that no one was hurt; if someone had died or even been sent to the hospital, I don’t know how I could have lived with myself.
What continually amazed me that entire day was how kind everyone was. The officer who responded was outside her jurisdiction. The poor lady had just been going to buy turtlenecks, and she was closest. Turns out that the intersection of Central and Broadway is one of the ones everybody argues over as far as jurisdictional issues, and it might have taken longer to get someone else there otherwise. But she stopped. And she was wonderful. Not only efficient but funny. She stayed with us until everything was sorted out.
Then, the insurance people I dealt with were kind. Understanding. Reassuring. And insurance people don’t have to be that way. But mine were.
And the big kicker is that the local car dealership in my town was willing to let me borrow a new car off their lot to drive without rent until I bought another car. Granted, they knew I would be buying that car from them, but that still didn’t mean they had to let me borrow a car without charging me.
And my parents? They had the right to be angrier at me than anyone, but they weren’t. They both showed up, kept the situation light, and have been a constant source of support through the whole process.
I’d never experienced unmerited favor this way, where I had done something unforgivable and people were willing to let it go and be kind to me above and beyond what I deserved. At least, that’s what I thought at first … until I really thought about it. And in actuality, I experience this kind of unmerited favor on a daily basis.
Today’s verse is Romans 5:8.
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
Do we get that? I’m not sure I did. I mean, I believe it 100%. I believe Christ died for me. I believe He paid the price for my sins to allow me to have a one-on-one, face-to-face relationship with God Himself. I believe that God has adopted me into His family through Christ’s sacrifice.
But what this entire ordeal has taught me is that there’s a big difference between accepting Christ and accepting grace.
Maybe this isn’t a revolutionary concept to anyone else, but I’ve never had a moment in my life where I’ve screwed up so badly. I cheated on a test or two in high school. I lied some. I lost my temper, had rebellious thoughts, disobeyed. But not like this. And to come face to face with my own fallibility has thrown me for a loop, not that I thought I was the best person in the world but that I’d always been able to walk away from sin, generally speaking.
But this? This was my fault. And I can’t shift blame or point fingers anywhere else. It was my responsibility to be a good driver, and I was careless. And three people were inconvenienced because of it–one truck driver and two ladies in a Honda. Yeah, fortunately no one was hurt, but I’ve been on the receiving end of enough careless drivers to know the frustration and anger you go through.
What I had to learn to wrap my head around throughout that whole day was that, yes, I screwed up, but people still cared about me. I had done wrong, but that didn’t mean that people were going to drop me or shun me. I think what the whole ordeal has shown me is an actual physical, personal example of what Christ has done for me.
When I screwed up (not even maliciously; more unwittingly than anything else), He loved me enough to sacrifice Himself so I could have life. And I didn’t deserve it. I couldn’t even pay for it. I couldn’t give Him anything in return, just tell Him that I’m sorry and trust that He was going to take care of it. And He did.
I think I had begun to take today’s verse for granted, kind of like I took my driving record for granted. I was a good driver. I hadn’t caused any wrecks ever, so why worry about running a red light? Surely that could never happen to someone like me. Kind of like my Christian walk. I’m a good person. I knew I couldn’t do anything to earn my salvation but I’d never done anything “bad enough” to cause me to question it. Not really.
Well … lesson learned. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to run a red light again any time soon because I’ll never forget what it felt like to see how kindly people were treating me when I absolutely didn’t deserve it. Just like Christ did.