A Lesson in Mercy

A couple of weeks ago I told you that I got a traffic ticket. (Well, mostly I told you that I almost killed a man, but let’s not split hairs…) What you don’t know is that the day after paying that ticket, I got another ticket.

For the same thing.

At the same intersection.



Immediately, and for two weeks straight, my mind has been reeling with evasion strategies. “I don’t deserve this. I’m a safe driver. I can’t pay two $100 fines!! Maybe if I just plead my case…  Maybe if I just rely on my previously stellar driving record….” Unfortunately, in all reality, two tickets in one week does not a stellar driving record make. 

So finally I decided on trying to offer community service in lieu of the fine, and to ask for a reduction of the driving “points” against me. I gathered my courage, practiced my speech, and headed to the courthouse.

I told him what happened. I told him what I wanted. And he said no.
Just simply, “No.”

And I walked away thinking, “Why? What does it matter to this judge whether I pay my debt with money or with my time? Why is there no mercy in the court system?”


But I got thinking about this today, and I got thinking about how I’d used my own traffic ticket as an analogy for my 11 year old niece a couple of days ago. “Sometimes we are disciplined for wrongdoings we didn’t necessarily intend to do,” I told her. “We weren’t malicious; we made a mistake. But how will we learn if we aren’t disciplined?” I got stuck in a bad driving habit, and let me tell you, if two citations in a five day period doesn’t make you sit up and take notice, I’m not entirely sure what will.

And I started to wonder how I would have felt if the judge had said, “Yes.” What if he had given me mercy, and essentially given me what I wanted? Would I have learned the same lesson in all of this? Would I continue to drive on high alert, cautious, aware of my actions? Or would I have learned, perhaps subliminally, that my infractions aren’t really that big of a deal?


Maybe sometimes I ask God for mercy, and he says “No.” Revolutionary thought, right? Can you imagine a loving God who would say No to mercy? But what if he does? And what if it’s for our own good? And what if we only truly learn what he intends for us to learn when we are disciplined as though we were his very own children?

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