I was ticketed yesterday while driving in South Carolina. “Improper lane change”. The officer said I had changed lanes in an improper manner. I feel like screaming, “Did you not see my traffic indicator blinking before I changed lanes?” And “Did anyone have to swerve or stomp on their brakes to avoid a collision?” He felt that I pulled between two cars with insufficient space.
Part of me has to acknowledge that he is right. It was a little tight. The traffic was heavy and the only way to get around the 18-wheeler I was following in the right lane was to move into a pretty full left lane. I wondered why he didn’t ticket people for not using the left lane for passing-only rather than camping out there.
I also felt like pointing out his own improper driving. I mean, who is he to call my action improper when he had just committed an improper action. When we passed this officer, he was just finishing ticketing someone else. This offender was parked on the right shoulder. The officer pulled around the car on the right, on the grass, and rejoined the highway. He wasn’t chasing anyone, just rejoining. I thought policemen were supposed to stay behind the vehicle as it rejoined traffic, using their flashing lights to make sure cars safely rejoined the highway.
Self-righteousness welled up. Other cars were doing wrong things, why pick me? You, Mr. Officer, are not a paragon of proper driving so how can you pick on me?
Other thoughts swirled.
God is sovereign. Nothing happens to me by chance, it is all part of God’s shaping me into the image of Jesus Christ.
Give thanks in all things. Rejoice always. I even preached on this back in July, calling it 10 Words to Live By.
I remember what long-time friend Don Myers taught me once about the Spirit-filled life, “It only works when you work it.” It doesn’t help to only know to give thanks in all things. It is beneficial in my life when I obey, when I follow God’s principles and actually give thanks in the midst of an unpleasant circumstance.
This morning, I read some thoughts from another friend, Judy Douglass. She wrote yesterday in a private message:
I believe thanking God does many things. Here are three:
The first is that it expresses my trust that God is God and God is good. Even when it doesn’t feel like it or look like it.
Second it gives me a more peaceful heart–sometimes just a little, sometime a great deal.
Third, I believe my saying Thank You opens a door for God to work in amazing and unexpected ways.
So, after a long night of laying awake thinking of smart remarks to make to Mr. Officer, I am writing this post as part of my saying to God this morning, “Thank you for the ticket. Thank you for what you want to do in my life through this ticket. Thank you for Mr. Officer who is participating in your plan to mold me into the image of Jesus Christ.”
After all, it is Thanksgiving and Kay and I drove to North Carolina to participate in thanking God with Jennifer, and with Daniel and Michelle and Abby and Lucy. It’s just a part of giving thanks that I was unprepared for, but I’m now getting around this giving of thanks also.