"I could give you a million reasons to justify my case, but the truth is
... I just need your mercy."
... as I penned these words I fully realized their weight. I would leave this courthouse with a $200 debt .. or a $2000 one. I handed the slip of paper to the clerk at the window and waited for my name to be called.
Guilt has a quick dawning, and I knew that a busy schedule was no excuse to not pay a ticket on time. In the most logical of ways, I knew that mercy was the only way out; and I was in no control of the granter.
As I stepped into the little courtroom, I sat beside others who stared blankly ahead.
I closed my eyes for just a moment ... and suddenly I was .. well..
still in this little courtroom.
BUT .. in the moments of my eyes being closed I shuttered deeply inside. I pondered what it would look like if this were the day I faced the Author of my Life. In a few minutes I would simply face a man or a woman who probably looked a whole lot like me. They probably at some point in their life procrastinated paying off a ticket. If not that, then maybe they struggled with lying, or stealing, or treating their husband/wife with disrespect.
As I opened my eyes, all I knew was that this wasn't going to be a perfect person. I was still ever anxious as to how their sentencing would affect my life.
And yet, I stared again at that judgement seat. What if this was the Author of my Life? Eternity?
I pictured this being it - Judgement Day.
My eyes closed again and I was overwhelmed with this one word
.. M e r c y.
If I thought I needed mercy with an unpaid ticket, how much more with an unpaid life? I hadn't paid the fine for my debt. Who could stand before a perfectly Holy God, and say
"This is why I deserve Heaven.."
Heaven demands perfection, or else it'd be hellish.
Backstabbing, gossiping, hurt.
No one perfect.
Every sinful thought. Every hateful word. Every bad decision.
No way. Not one.
And even to those whose lives were seemingly clean..
I knew it wasn't enough to live a "good" life - to give God the list of events and charities I donated to, or how many times I prayed or went to church. I knew, this would only be more foolish. I could only give what had first been given to me.
Nothing was really mine, anyway.
It would be like me standing before this judge, and telling her it would all be OK - I didn't pay my ticket, BUT... I DID serve food at a shelter to those in need this Christmas.
She might say that was nice, and it is; But we all know that the debt simply hadn't been paid.
Granted, it holds true that I may be able to get off paying that ticket with a fine of community service hours, or something of the sort. However, if it was anything besides the full payment of the ticket as appointed by the law - then it would require some degree of
m e r c y.
God said don't lie
God said don't take what isn't yours
God said the hate in our heart is like murder.
We deserve the wrath of God, and yet:
"You were bought at a price." (1Cor6:20)
We hear it again and again - our debt has been paid, our slate wiped cleaned. I admit that this truth resonnates deeper some days than others. Yet, as I sat in this courtroom realizing the weight of truth, I also found the weight of Grace. That it wouldn't cost me a thing - but Him, e v e r y t h i n g.
I was pardoned the added $1800. That felt - good. I waited in line to pay the $200, and somehow now, this seemed like nothing at all.
I looked behind me in line and caught eyes with a man of Spanish decent. He stood with his papers in hand, his little girl behind him, peeking her head from behind his legs.
"Your smiling," I said
"Does that mean your verdict was one worth smiling for?"
He smiled bigger, and went on to tell me that he only lives in Tempe for part of the year, and the rest he is up in Northern Arizona. He had been unaware for several months of a ticket he had gotten. The judge had leniency, and he was thankful.
I looked down at his beautiful little girl, who felt invisible behind her daddy's leg. She gripped his pant leg even harder when I bent down and said hello, with a small hand wave.
She hid her little grin
as she pressed her head deeper into his pants.
I stood up as my name was called to the window ..
"Dios te bendiga." I said as I walked toward the counter.
"Igualmente." He smiled.
Walking out of the courthouse I realized that I spent a lot of time worrying about the outcome of my situation instead of facing it. It dawned on me that it added no minutes, no hours, and no days to my life. God had plans far beyond what I pictured them- day in and day out.
As the thoughts poured, I heard feet racing toward me from behind. I turned quickly.
She ran to my feet, looked up at me, and g r a c e f u l l y stretched both of her arms outwards.
I was in shock.
This shy little girl, scared to leave the comfort from behind her daddy's leg, was standing in front of me, looking up - waiting for me to hug her. And not only that, but she ran. I knelt down and wrapped my arms around her as I choked back tears.
A song came to mind:
"Your grace has found me just as I am, Empty handed..
but alive in Your hands."
..and in the arms of a little girl, or in the grace of mercy;
It's his love.