The red and blue twirly lights came on just past Fort Donelson, as we drove down along the Cumberland River in Tennessee. I eased our 25 year old RV to the curb, rolled down my window and waited. As the officer approached, I said, “Is this a Colorado marijuana stop?” “Not yet,” he said with a laugh. “i clocked you going 40, coming down that hill into town.” You know what always comes next: you hand over the paperwork and then sit there, drumming your fingers on the steering wheel and wondering what’s coming as this sick feeling begins to grow in your stomach. My guess was 4 points and 150 bucks. After what seemed like a very long time, he came strolling back from his cruiser, hitching up his pants and adjusting his hat. Didn’t look good… “Well sir, I’m going to give you a warning this time. Please drive more slowly and y’all have a nice day.” Do you remember what that feels like? The sudden, unexpected rush of freedom and joy? Woot, woot!
Be honest: If you owed $150 for every time you drove over the speed limit in your life, how much would you owe? How about for just last week? Justice demands that we pay the full amount. Grace, the kind of grace I received from a cop in Tennessee, treats you as though you had obeyed the law completely. We all know justice is good. But grace is better! What if you had to pay the full and just penalty for everything you ever did that was not good? Hmmm….
Psalm 32 begins like this:
“Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.” (Psalm 32:1-2)
The first phrase is grace. God will let you off (with a warning!) and treat you as though you had obeyed the law completely. But notice that the second phrase says our “sins are covered.” By Whom? This ancient psalm foretells the sacrifice of Jesus! He will “cover” the cost for our sins. Having done so, He will also cover over our sins, as though we had never sinned. Amazing! And “blessed!” Woot, woot!
But notice, the last phrase, which talks of the one in “whose spirit is no deceit.” As you read further in Psalm 32, you discover that David is talking about one who openly confesses his sins to God, with no holding back, no deceit. The process of surrender to Jesus, by which we are given the full pardon of grace, includes heartfelt, honest acknowledgement to God of our shortcomings and moral failures. We don’t pretend that we deserve the grace He offers. We come “without one plea.” But that confession (which becomes a continual part of our relationship) clears the air. We have no secrets and live, fully aware of just how much we need grace.