Thursday, September 6, 2007

Oops! You Did It Again

Some time ago, the city where I live began putting up traffic cameras at some of the busier intersections throughout the city. These aren't just any traffic camera, though--these cameras snap a picture of the car and license plate of anyone who decides the whole "red light, green light" thing doesn't work for them and just keeps on going through the red light. Should you choose to ignore the red light and go anyway, in a few weeks you will get your very own, personalized traffic ticket in the mail. You can pay it, or you can go to court, but you should remember that they did catch it on tape...

This story is not about whether these cameras are good or bad, but just a couple of secondhand experiences I've had with them recently that got me thinking.
A friend of mine told me that her daughter had gotten one of these tickets in the mail; but her daughter insisted that, not only did she have a good reason for speeding (her son was having a seizure...not a first time, but always scary...), but that she did stop and look before going on through the light. So, my friend called the number on the citation, and explained all this to the lady on the phone. Ms. Ticket-by-mail lady listened politely, then told my friend that she was looking at the video and that her daughter had not in fact stopped. She said they would probably forgive the ticket based on the situation if she had shown some caution, but that she had not even slowed down. Ticket-by-mail lady said daughter did not even slow down...if anything, she sped up. The ticket was paid, and hopefully, the lesson learned.

Then yesterday, I witnessed what must be just about the most bone-headed thing I've seen this year. I was driving down the road, approaching a light just before one of these traffic cam intersections and saw THE flash--that super-bright, white light that tells you one of the cams has just snapped a red-light transgressor. I looked up the road to see the culprit, just then getting to other side of the intersection, and I thought, "man, I bet he wishes he hadn't done that! (yes, in all fairness, perhaps "She" wishes it...I don't know)"
Now, this is a stretch of road where there are actually two large, busy intersections in a row, both with cameras. Well, while I'm still watching this car, thinking how it must feel to have that bright light flash behind you and realize what you've done, they get up to the second intersection, which has also just turned red, and what do they do? Oh yes, they did it...they went right through that one too! They were turning right this time, but they did not even slow down to see if there was anything coming. And yes, there was another flash of light, meant just for them...

All this got me thinking about....God. Pretty scary how weird my brain works sometimes, but I suddenly saw how these cameras were like God's security system for us.
In the last post, I talked about how God warns us before we "hit" something, before we fall into a temptation. But what about after? Once I fall to temptation, once I enter into sin, does God just punish me and that's that? No, God is more interested in helping me learn so that I don't keep making the same mistakes.

In the first instance, the daughter insisted she had stopped, she had done what she was supposed to, and besides her situation made what she had done okay...I do this ALL the time; it's called rationalization...what I did was okay, because....
Her mother didn't see her at that intersection. Her friends didn't see her there. She could have told them anything and they would have believed her. Except for one problem. The camera saw her. And the camera doesn't lie...she was busted.

God is the same way--I may be able to fool everyone else and make them believe that I didn't do something, or at least that my reasons were pure and just. I might even make myself believe it...but sometimes I forget one little thing. God was watching--He saw it, and there's just no getting around it.
If you had your dad, or your mom, or your pastor, or the principal of your school, with you everwhere you went, do you think there might be some things you'd do differently? Would you work a little harder, be a little nicer, stay out of certain places? Well, as Christians, we DO have Jesus with us, everywhere. He's there when you tell that little lie. He's there when you tell that dirty joke. He's there when you decide to go somewhere you shouldn't, even though you pick a place far away from your home so "nobody will know." Think about that the next time you're facing temptation!

But then there's the second part of this, the guy/girl who went through not one light, but two, even though they got busted the first time.
There are two parts to this. First, God doesn't just warn us when we're about to sin, He also tries to make us stop and think, and repent, as soon as we do sin, so that it won't get any worse than it already is. That first camera flash really should have done the trick! Once busted, he could have acknowledged his mistake and changed his behavior the next time, but he didn't, and now you can bet, it is not going to be pretty when this poor soul gets not one, but two tickets!!

So, what about us? How does God "bust" us sometimes? What about when you get caught in a lie? Or, you let temptation win, and you go to that place you shouldn't go, far away from home, and somebody you know sees you as they're driving past? Or you let the urge win, and you get on the computer and go to that site you have no business looking at, and someone walks into your room? BUSTED....but does it change your behavior? Does it make you stop, realize what you're doing is wrong, and repent (change your mind & change your direction)?
That's what God wants us to do, you know, and He'll even help us do it, if we'll let Him. But if we blatantly disregard the warnings, and if even getting busted once doesn't wake us up, then pretty soon, we will find ourselves in a real mess. Beware--getting caught in the lie was a warning to not tell the lie again!! Getting caught on the website was a warning to block those sites, don't let yourself go there!! Those are all God's ways of saying, "Hey! I'm watching, don't do're gonna get yourself in a big mess if you keep that up!" See, God will allow us to suffer consequences for our actions, but it is NOT because He enjoys punishing's because He loves us, and He wants us to learn from our mistakes and draw closer to Him. In fact, He wants us to draw SO close, that we go everywhere with Jesus, and we let Him decide what we do...

For I am crucified with Christ and yet I live; yet, not I, but
Christ liveth in me. And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loves me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20

1 comment:

Kathy said...

Hi! That was really great! You think so much like me and your blogging style reminds me of mine. I like to put a Bible verse at the end also. I'm glad I ran across your blog and would like to keep reading it. Please visit mine if you have a chance.