The woman, dressed in jean shorts and a pink top, had just stepped into the roadway.
I tapped my brakes and in a split-second, assessed the situation:
- I was too close to the crosswalk to stop fully in front of it.
- A glance in my rear view mirror revealed a car behind me so close that hitting my brakes harder would cause it to hit me from behind.
- The pedestrian was not quite halfway through the opposing lane of traffic.
I decided it was safest for all involved to proceed forward.
Once past the walkway, I again checked the rear view mirror and was surprised to see the other car also go through it. It was especially concerning since at this point the woman had approached the halfway point and did a stutter step to slow down and not walk into the car.
I threw on my blinker and turned the corner, continuing on to my destination.
One last glance in the mirror and my worst fears were realized. Apparently I had taken in everything in that split second except the police car that just flipped on its lights to pull me over.
My heart sank.
"License, registration and insurance card please."
"Can I ask what I did?"
"You went through the crosswalk with the pedestrian in it."
"I saw her, and I even tapped my brakes, but there was a car behind me. Can I ask why you didn't pull them over?" I was on the verge of tears, but trying to politely defend my actions.
"We've had lots of complaints about this very thing in this same area. I was there specifically looking for cars driving through the crosswalk. I felt you had the better field of vision."
He walked back to his car.
A million thoughts went through my mind. "It's not fair" was chief among them.
I threw up a prayer. "Please God, let him come back with a warning and not a ticket."
He came back with a ticket.
"If you feel you want to argue the ticket, just call and make a court date."
As he walked away, my eyes fell on the cost of the fine.
I started to weep. To put it mildly, I've endured a lot the past few months. My calendar for the entirety of July is filled with more doctor visits that equal more co-pays. About $230 dollars worth in the next eight days. I was angry, frustrated, and overwhelmed at the thought of this large financial burden being added to my plate.
It took me a good five minutes to calm down enough to get back on the road. By the time I looked up, the officer was long gone.
I thought about what I might say to the judge quite a bit over the next few days. I told the story to a friend and ended with "but I keep coming to the same conclusion. If the judge asks me two questions: Was there a pedestrian in the crosswalk? and Did you drive through the crosswalk? I can only answer "yes" to both. Regardless of the pedestrian's decision to enter the roadway with an oncoming car, by the letter of the law I was guilty and the judge would most likely refuse to listen further.
A week before the ticket was due, I called the court to see if there were points attached. I assumed there were since it was a moving violation.
I thought about trying to make a deal with the prosecutor for a downgraded charge with no points. While they are often open to that type of deal, it always comes with a steep price tag and the current $230 was already more than I could afford.
"We don't assess points in court. You'll have to call the MVC." The clerk gave me the number.
As I held for many minutes, I flipped the ticket over to reveal a website address. The ticket instructed the recipient to visit the website for more information. Thinking the points might be posted there, I put the call on speaker and typed in the URL to check it out.
I plugged in the ticket number, the court number and my plate number. Then I saw something strange.
"Fee: $0. Ticket addressed 7/5/18."
What? Did someone pay my ticket? No one but my friend was aware I'd gotten one and I knew she didn't do it. I hadn't told her the story until July 6th.
Even as I dialed the number for the court again, I thought "are you crazy? If it's a clerical error and you're getting away with something, you're going to alert them to the mistake!"
I informed the woman on the other end about what I'd seen. "Hold on, I'll check on it."
It felt like an eternity, and all the while I was kicking myself for being too honest.
"That's correct. You owe nothing. The officer said he gave the ticket to the wrong person. Was there someone else in the car with you?"
"Nobody but Jesus" I thought...but I said, "no, he probably meant he should have given it to the car behind me." I explained the whole story. "I'm really a good driver" I said a little weakly.
She laughed and said, "Well, the ticket is rescinded. The officer actually did it the next day, but the 5th was the first day we've had court since then."
It was the last outcome I would have expected.
Just like salvation.
By the letter of the law, we are guilty. We can try to compare our sins to the person behind us and think "I'm not as bad as they are!" but we all fall short of God's glory and deserve to pay the penalty.
We can try to blame our circumstances on the actions of others, but we are responsible for our own actions.
We can even try to justify ourselves with "I'm really a good person." But we can never be perfect 100% of the time.
When we finally come to grips with the fact that there is nothing we can do to escape the penalty for those sins, God hears our tears of repentance and exercises His mercy when we look to Him.
He rescinds our ticket to hell and grants us admission to heaven. We need only believe that Jesus is His son who died to take on our guilt and act as sacrifice for our sins. It's immediate, even though we won't see the final result until the day of "court."
It's the last outcome we expect - or deserve.
I'm not sure why that officer did the unheard of that day, but I am grateful for the mercy extended to me.
I don't know why Jesus would have endured all He did to save me from eternal death, but I am grateful for the love and mercy that led Him to die in my place so that the Book of Life reads