Tuesday, 23 August 2011

P plate fine

Driving back from Canberra last Sunday.

Me: Oooh, ok, there's a police car behind me with lights on. I'm gonna have to slow down and stop.
Wife: Really?
Me: I hope I wasn't speeding, for a moment, I might have gone over the speed limit, I don't know. If I have, this might be my first time getting caught. :-(
Wife: ...
Police Officer: This is a random breath testing, can I see your driver's license, please?
Me: Oh, yep. (feeling confident and relieved that it's not about speeding, handed over my license.)
PO: Please count to 5 here.
Me: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. (feeling more confident. Of course I didn't drink any alcohol that morning, nor the night before.)
PO: Ok... I also noticed that you didn't have your P plate displayed at the back.
Me: What?!?! No, really? It must've fallen off somewhere.
PO: No, well, you show me where you had it on. Just watch the cars driving past.
Me: Yeah, sure.
Came out of the car, walked around to the back. And, of course, just as PO said, it wasn't there.
Me: Oh, ok... but... but... I normally have them on, just here. (Pointing to the right side of the number plate.)
PO: So, when did you have it on?
Me: Urm... yesterday...? (O how I wish I did not say that...)
PO: See, there's dust here where you are pointing, you didn't have it on for a while.
I started walking around to the front of the car, thinking, "surely, the front one must still be there."
PO: Yeah, the front one, do you have the P plate at the front?
Me: What!?!? (To my shock and horror, the front one was missing too.)
PO: Where do you have it on, usually?
Me: (Somewhat unsure this time, point to the right side of the number plate) Around here...?
PO: There's dust and bugs as well here. See, you didn't have them on for a long time. You lied. I don't like being lied to.
Me: (By this time, I was so shocked and started feeling miserable, had my hands on top of my head.) I.. I have spare P plates in my car, I'll put them on right now.
PO: Yeah? I got lots of them. I can give you some if you want. Do you want them?
Me: No, no, I got some here. I'll just put them on right now...
PO: Well, I'll be right back, this won't take long. (Walks back to his car.)
Me: (getting back into my car and to my wife) Whe... when did we lose our P plates?
Wife: ... I don't know...?
Me: It must've fallen off somewhere and we didn't realise it for a while.
PO: (returning to us) You have driven without your P plates, and there was dust and bugs on the spot where you said you had your P plates on, obviously you did not have the P plates for a while. You are receiving the penalty and the instructions are on this paper. Do you have any questions?
Me: .... no.
PO: Ok, sorry to keep you waiting, have a nice day. (Walks away.)
Me: ... (sigh) ...
Me: (drive away)
... silence in the car for several minutes ...
Me: Sorry, Sulahya. I should've checked.
Wife: That's ok. (smiles)
Me: (sigh)
... more silence in the car for many more minutes ...
Me: Sorry, Sulahya, but... Arrghhh, I'm so upset!
Wife: It's okay. (more smiles)
Me: I mean, sure, I didn't have the P plates on. I'll pay the fine and take the demerit points, but why did he accuse me of lying?
Wife: ...
Me: I feel like writing a letter to the police department for an apology. I don't care about the fine, but why accuse me of lying?
Wife: huh. (small laughter)
... some time later ...
Me: Ok, ok. I have to confess that when I said, "yesterday...?" I was kind of lying. I didn't know whether the plate was on the car yesterday or not.... I just assumed it was on, and I was hoping that he would let me off with just a warning if I told him I had them on yesterday. I should forgive the policeman for accusing me of lying.
Wife: Ok.
Me: Yes, I forgive him. I decided to forgive him, and I forgive him.
Wife: Ok.
... some hours later ...
Me: Oh, I realise that I had been breaking the road rules many times, and I take this as God's gracious warning. I'm not even going to bother appealing for leniency. I'll just pay the fine and I will thank God for reminding me of His grace in my life.
Wife: Yeah... Ok.
... the next day ...
Me: (after paying for the fine online) Oh, God. I'm still upset. What is going on? Why, why am I so upset still?

[The dialogue with the police officer is as accurate as I can remember it. I wish I had the recorded conversation available to me.]


Deep down, I am upset more because of the moral accusation of lying from the policeman than the fine I received. But there is also a sense of being trapped by him (when he asked me when I had the P plate on, since I just assumed I always had them on and didn't pay much attention to it) and also a sense of lost opportunity of appeal for leniency because I didn't say the right words at the time (the policeman informed me well that the conversation is being recorded). But, ultimately, I now realise that I am so upset and unable to let go because I am not satisfied with God's forgiveness and Jesus's righteousness imputed on me. I am hurting from PO's moral accusation because my heart was saying that God's promise is not enough! It is good time to remind myself of Romans 8:1, There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. O, that my heart be satisfied with Him!

I am not a fan of turning any of unfavourable life's events into some kind of lessons. There are cases where such approach may not be appropriate. But in this incident, I need to learn some valuable lessons, and they are:
1) Believe in Jesus who have paid for my sins completely. I no longer need to defend myself. No need to seek my own justification. Jesus is my justification. God declared I am forgiven. True, I am a liar, deserving eternal hell. Also true, that I am blameless in God's eyes, accepted into the blissful heaven where He reigns.
2) Resolved to be satisfied with what God says about me, rather than what people say about me. How long shall I go on fearing men, rather than God?
3) Resolved to speak truth only, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, all the time. Even in a situation where I *might* be able to escape a penalty by telling a half-truth, I must speak the truth. (In my recent experience, when the PO asked me when I had the P plates on, I should have said: "I do not know. I just assumed they were on, because I don't recall taking them off.", instead of squirming out, "... yesterday...?")
4) Resolved to keep to the law of the land to my best ability. It does not honour Jesus to break the law of this land.
5) Resolved to apply the gospel again and again to my own heart, knowing that it is both the sharpest sword to pierce my dull conscience as well as the most soothing balm to my hurting soul.

Also, from The Critical Question for Our Generation:
Ray Ortlund: “The worst this life can shove down our throats, but with the nearness of Jesus, is heaven on earth. The best this life can give, but without Jesus, is a living hell.”

I agree. And this whole event for the past few days, as much as my heart is still sore and grieving, has forced me to rely on Jesus more and for that I am grateful to God. It is His grace that I received this fine. It is His grace in my life that the PO stated the obvious that I am a liar. It is His grace that I continued to seek comfort from God. It is His grace that I can now say that it is His grace. It is all Him. I can boast in none but Jesus.

For those close to me, I ask for your prayers that I may be restored to peace and joy in Jesus.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

A young boy, political opinions, and Christianity

Charlie, an 11 year old from Sydney, has written an articulate opinion piece, and it was published by SMH yesterday.
As soon as saw it, I knew it would become popular, nay, semi-sensational, and apparently it did, mostly because anti-Christian people naturally love hearing arguments against Christian activities. It almost doesn't matter whether it is a strong, persuasive argument or not, as long as it is against Christianity, or more accurately, their understanding of Christianity.
Anyway, the opinion itself was very well written, I thought, for an 11 year old.
But, I would make a couple of comments about the following in particular:

By all means, Mr Nile, you go out and be as Christian as you want; I respect that entirely. But that does not give you and your supporters the right to attempt to shape a future generation of adults in your mould – that is a religious conservative.

Firstly, you seem to have a naive view of political engagement. Anyone and everyone who comes into a political arena brings his own beliefs. A Christian brings his Christian beliefs and they form their opinions. A muslim is influenced by his beliefs. An atheist brings his atheistic beliefs (that is, there is no God) into his political opinions, and I'm sure he tries to argue his case in hope that his policies will bring good to the people and the nation. Not only this is inevitable, it must be this way. You try to separate a person's beliefs and his opinions, you get hypocritical opinions. You will never get a genuine voice anywhere, unless you allow people to live, act, speak from their beliefs. No doubt, the pervasive naivety about the separation of church and state contributed to your error.

Secondly, if you are simply opposing Fred Nile's opinions and his political influence, whatever your motivation, that's fine. Let me repeat that. I'm a Christian, and I support Fred Nile in some of his political opinions, but I will not stop you from opposing him, whatever your motivation. But there is difference between opposing a political influence and attacking someone's right to a political influence. If you are hoping that he should not be allowed to voice his opinions and exercise his political power that he has, then you are only asking for trouble. You are denying his right to a political activity. Ever heard of freedom of speech? You know what you get when you deny others' freedom of speech? Totalitarian society.

Charlie, you wrote very well, and I believe you have a talented mind. In time, you will be able to understand and articulate issues and opinions even better than this. Keep yourself humble, and keep learning. You have a great potential, and I don't say this to many people.

For the SMH editors and readers who had to rely on this article to express your thoughts, I don't have much commendation for you. Not because it's from an 11 year old (I have a great respect for young minds, you only need to be aware of just a little bit of history to realise the amazing capacity and potential of young minds), but because it's not very strong and articulate as you think. You are only betraying yourselves when you get so excited about this piece. You only exposed your own ignorance on the fundamentals of the democratic society of Australia which comes from a rich Christian heritage.