We parked on the street, paid our $5 for our parking validation card and displayed it on the dash.
I took note that it would expire at 2:55 p.m.
After we looked at a few places, we stopped at a pub to talk about what we had seen and to have a beer, periodically checking my phone for the time to ensure we returned to the car before the parking validation expired.
We returned to the car at 2:45 p.m. and were shocked to find we had been ticketed. The ticket had been issued at 2:33 p.m., 22 minutes before my parking validation expired!
The wife then tells me that a few weeks ago she was ticketed before her time expired, so she drove to the municipal courts building, showed them the time on the ticket and her parking validation and they voided the ticket. Before she finished telling me this I’m getting angry. I’m thinking this is a racket to raise revenue for the city.
So, we drive directly to the municipal courts building. When we get there we have to pay another $5 to park. Now I’m really starting to get mad. I’m busy. Incredibly busy. I’m thinking how much money in terms of my time that this is costing me. It would be easy just to pay the fine, but this is about principle now.
By the time we get to the waiting room and sign in I’m totally ticked off. As I sit there waiting for them to call my name, I’m thinking about how much I have to do back at the office and how much time this is wasting. I’m thinking, maybe its intentional or maybe it’s just sloppiness, but as soon as they void this ticket, I’m going to file a complaint against the officer who wrote it.
And then, when I’m at the height of my anger and self-righteousness the Lord spoke to me. He didn’t speak to me like He did to Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments. It wasn’t an audible voice. It wasn’t even sub-audible. It was just a word that suddenly appeared in my spirit as big as day. I knew it was the Lord because the word was so far removed from what I was thinking or feeling it could not have been related. It came from somewhere else. The word was “GRACE.”
Not a second after I had broken with my self-righteous attitude and decided not to file a complaint against the officer, the judge called my name. What he told me next shocked me. I was not ticketed for exceeding my time on the parking validation but for parking in a disabled parking space. The wife and I said in unison, “That’s impossible.” The judge then pulled up the parking space on Google maps, and sure enough there were stripes painted on the space, though they were very faint.
We assured him there were no stripes on that space now. He said the Google maps picture was taken 2 years ago, and if we wanted to go back and take a picture and bring it back to show him there were no longer any stripes there he would void the ticket. I told him that would take an hour, and he could see from Google maps the lines were barely visible two years ago. Then I asked him for grace. He gave it and voided the ticket.
I hesitated to write this blog because I was embarrassed by my self-righteousness. Even when I realized the Lord was speaking I thought He was telling me I needed to show the officer grace. Little did I know I would be the one needing grace. The truth is we all need grace, and because we need it it would be hypocritical not to be prepared to give it to others. GS