Friday, May 13, 2011

Cops and My Conscience

Today as I drove my kids to a birthday party, I changed lanes and then got a sudden jolt of fear as I noticed a police van directly behind me.  I checked my speed, calmed my breathing and sighed with relief when it signaled and turned into a parking lot behind me.  Sadly, this isn't the first time I've encountered a burst of tension when I intercept a police vehicle on the road.  Truth be told, I've got a secret.  I'm not the perfect mom, pastor's wife, friend, super-star (... or whatever you've labeled me with) that you think I am.  I have been driving illegally for the past year and a half.

Gasp!  It's true!  Way back when we moved into our new house in Lethbridge, I put off changing the address on my license due to the inconvenience and for monetary reasons.  At first, it wasn't a big deal - we still used the address on my licence, since it was a post office box, so I could legitimately say it was my address (just not my residence). But the months spanned into a year and a half, and we no longer have that P.O. Box, so really I have no excuse holding me back from going in and getting this procedure done and over with.  Well, I do have a couple of excuses... kids...busy life... and, ummmm... my vanity.  I keep telling myself that I'll go on a day when I've done my hair nicely and I'm wearing make-up, because I dread having one of those secret-service, escaped-convict, deranged assassin sort of photo on my driver's license.

So for all this time, it is as though there is a burning ember in my wallet, a lie, a secret, a misdemeanor that could land me a hefty ticket should the authorities catch me driving this way.  I drive under a cloud of guilt every time I remember that this should be on the top of my "to do" list.

This is not unlike a guilty conscience.  Sometimes, we have things hiding in our back pocket or under the bed or in the closet of our lives that niggle away and pop their heads up every now and then, eroding our confidence and most importantly, our sense of peace.  It could be a memory from the past; a fault or a failure - or it could be something in the present; recurring sin or emotion-driven flaws that you wish you could change.  Whatever the issue - hidden or obvious, the Christian life is made to be one of freedom from guilt and condemnation.  "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" Romans 8:1.  Also, as far as your past, scripture tells us:  "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."  We are not meant to live under the guilt and pain of our past, nor are we to be focused on the negative in the here and now. 

Christ's death on the cross (if you believe in it, and receive His forgiveness) has brought us into a new era.  We live by a new contract that is established on grace - getting what we don't deserve - and not based on our own efforts or our perceived goodness.  How we appear in the eyes of God also has nothing to do with our present faults, sins or insecurities.  Philipians 3:10 sums it all up quite clearly:

    and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;
It's as though grace is the vehicle we drive in, and our license will never expire - it is an eternal contract, authorized by Christ's amazing sacrifice on the cross.  We needn't live under a shadow of guilt, and if you do look in the rear view mirror and see the "accuser of the brethren" (Rev. 12:10) know that he has no authority over your life.  It is up to you to receive the grace and live in it daily.  The more we understand this immeasurable gift, the easier it is to follow the Lord and live the way He wants us to.

There are areas of my life that I wish would improve, and the answer is not that I should carry around guilt and worry and fear over these things.  The answer is to focus on Jesus.  The answer is to steep myself in His grace and let Him change me from the inside.  Now that I've straightened that out, I should probably go in and fix my driver's license...

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