I experienced a moment of grace the other day.

I was cruising along on Interstate 20 east of Atlanta and not thinking about how fast I was driving. A glance at the rear view mirror revealed a police car immediately behind me. Although I was not aware of the speed limit, I was sure that I was exceeding it.

My heart began to race as I quickly pulled into the lane to my right expecting the officer to follow me. Instead he remained in his lane and as I slowed my speed he slowed accordingly. He did not pass or pull in behind me as I further reduced my speed down to what I then knew was the limit. We continued for a few minutes at the speed limit with me in the “slow” lane and him just behind me in the “fast” lane. If he was going to pull me over and give me a ticket, why didn’t he go ahead and do it?

Finally the police officer slowly advanced until he was driving right beside me. He continued to keep pace with me for what seemed like eternity. I deliberately kept my focus straight ahead thinking that if I avoided eye contact he would go on. In a little while I glanced out of the corner of my eye to see him looking at me. When I turned and looked his way he nodded slightly, smiled, and drove away.

Whew! When I first caught the glimpse of that police car in my rear view mirror I instinctively knew I was speeding. Caught. I could already see the officer writing a ticket and my anger (at myself) because of how much the fine would be and the increase in my insurance premium as a result.

What a relief as the officer drove on without stopping me and issuing a citation for speeding! Grace- not getting what I deserved. Grace is a free gift and I had just received it in the form of forgiveness without penalty. At that moment I was keenly aware I had been spared a penalty that I rightly deserved. I breathed a sigh of relief and whispered a prayer of gratitude.

There have been other times in my life that I have not fared so well. I have paid my share of traffic fines. There have been other experiences when I transgressed the law or violated a moral principle and was penalized.

Perhaps the greatest examples of grace in my life are not to be seen in the occasions when I didn’t get what I deserved but in the times that I “paid the price” and learned from the painful experience. The fact that I have survived the “bad times” is certainly evidence of God’s grace. Whether grace has been imparted in very ordinary circumstances or more extraordinary- maybe even supernatural- occurrences, I thank God. And I believe that on every occasion when I have been conscious of the gift of grace my attitudes and actions have been altered, perhaps ever so slightly, and have made me a better person.

I am grateful for the grace I receive and pray that I will be the instrument of grace in the lives of others.

Jamie Jenkins