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.

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