Back in April I was driving from Chicago to Lafayette, heading down I-65, excited to be looking at houses as we planned our move back to the great state of Indiana. I was moving along through Crown Point at about 7 AM listening to music and anticipating the next rest stop when those dreaded flashing lights appeared in my rear view mirror. Turns out I was moving along a little too fast and I just happened to be in a construction zone. After a nice chat with an officer of the law, I received my citation and few weeks later I received my court date.
Before this incident it had been almost 20 years since I had received a traffic citation. The nature of my work involves a company car and regular driving record verification so it is to my advantage to keep a clean driving record.
Well today was my court date so I made the one and half our drive up to Crown Point, found my court room, checked in, and took my seat on a hard bench next to some of the hardest looking criminals in the state. This room was full of seat belt violators, broken headlight drives, and rolling stop sign non-stoppers. You know, the worst of the worst!
We all waited for the judge to come in, stood up, raised our right hand and confirmed that we understood the rights that had just been read to us and that we would tell the truth. I watched as a few people went up to the podium and had their violations read aloud for everyone to hear. People would plead guilty and provide some kind of reason for their misdeed and the judge would lower their charge, fine them a few bucks and charge them half a million in court costs. Then my name was called…
Now I need to pause here just a bit to explain some things about the kind of work I do. I apologize if any of this sounds arrogant, that is not my intent, but I believe it will add weight to the story. Within my company I hold a position of relative power and authority. Most everyone in my business unit knows who I am and shows me a certain amount of respect. As part of my job, I meet with Senior Leadership to deliver business plans, discuss strategy, and develop tactics. I am often in situations where I’m defending my ideas or my team in front of very powerful people. Additionally, my work requires that I meet with CEOs, CFOs, Medical Directors, Pharmacy Directors and other influential people within the largest health systems in the country. I commonly negotiate and conduct business deals that are worth millions and millions of dollars to my company. In all these situations my knowledge, experience, and expertise provide me a certain level of confidence and I rarely get scared or nervous. Back to our story…
As I walk to the podium my knees start shaking and I start to perspire. I can tell my throat is getting dry and all the eloquent words I had prepared have vanished completely from my memory. My heart is beating so loudly that I’m quite sure the prosecuting attorney sitting at the table next to me can hear it. I had one clear thought. I should have called one of those attorneys that had sent me a letter offering to represent me. How nice it would have been to have an expert by my side.
The judge reads my violation aloud for everyone to hear and simply asks, “How do you plead?” I open my mouth and, at first, nothing comes out. What can I say? I’m guilty! I did it! Everything the officer wrote down is true. Everything the judge read is accurate. According to the law I don’t have a defense. No excuses, no lies, no negotiations, throw the book at me I’m done! This confident, experienced, knowledgeable, well-spoken man was turned to mush by the authority of that court room and my own undeniable guilt.
On the way home I reflected on my reaction to that situation and started thinking about another courtroom. Imagine standing before the throne of God, the creator of heaven and earth, the righteous Judge as He begins to read your violations aloud for everyone to hear. Imagine looking into His eyes and seeing the deep sadness and disappointment in His face as every lustful thought and harsh word and selfish motive is laid out before you. Every excuse, every feeble attempt to rationalize your life of sin vanishes in the overwhelming, undeniable evidence of your guilt. You are guilty! Everything written down is true. Everything the Judge has said is accurate. All you are left with is your shame and the terror of the forthcoming punishment. And then…
From across the room you hear someone speak up. His voice is loud and confident and without hesitation He says, “I know him. He’s one of mine. I’ve paid his debt, I’ve fulfilled his punishment. Dismiss the charges.”
“For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;” Hebrews 9:24
Of course we don’t know what that scene will look like, forgive my literary license. I do know that my most terrifying nightmares don’t compare to what it would be like to stand before almighty God alone and without Christ. And I know that my wildest dreams can’t imagine the joy and exhilaration of having my Lord by my side coming to my defense.
My friends we must all appear before the judgment seat of God. If you have not put on Christ and been washed clean of your sins you will be standing there alone. I beg you, by the mercies of God, submit yourself to Christ.
And just in case you were wondering…I have to pay a few hundred bucks and keep my nose clean for 12 months and nothing will be added to my record. I’m thankful for the mercy of the court but that is a subject for another article.