Why Weren’t You Wearing Your Seat Belt?Posted: September 26, 2006
While we were on vacation in California for my cousin’s wedding, our main method of transportation was the beloved mini-van. Partially because of forgetfulness, and partially because of comfort I did not wear my seat belt while riding in the back row of the vehicle. Neither did my sister, perhaps for the same reason. On our way back from San Francisco (where the wedding was) to LA (where my uncle, who was driving us, lives) we saw a highway patrol on the side of the road. I guess it’s natural instinct to slow down or something when you pass by a cop car, even if you aren’t speeding. So, that’s what my uncle did. Maybe there was something suspicious about the way my uncle tapped the brake, or that it was a mini-van full of Asians, or maybe a little bit of both. The highway patrol decided to follow us. I was in the back row, so I turned and looked. The patrol car was a good distance away, but was speeding toward us. As it got about a car length away, it switched to the other lane, next to the mini-van. The officer looked over at me, and we made eye contact. I really didn’t think much of it. She then got behind us again, but this time with the flashing lights. I started thinking about what possible reason she had to stop us. (In case you are a smart person, you might have figured it out by the title of the blog. Here’s a cookie. Now keep reading. 🙂 ) I quickly buckled mine, and told Deb, who was just waking up from a nap, to do the same. She opened the sliding door and asked us a very important question.
“Is there any reason why you two don’t have your seat belts on?”
I sat there quiet. I didn’t want to admit guilt. I didn’t want to get a ticket. Is there even a good answer to that question? “I like sitting without a seat belt, it’s fun!” or “I like lying down when I’m napping, the seat belt gets in the way,” or “How else are we going to play tag?”. There really isn’t.
So, I just sat there and said nothing. Even though I was wrong, even though I was guilty, and there was no way to hide the fact that I wasn’t wearing my seat belt, I did not want to admit I was not wearing it. I hoped that she was dumb enough to think she was mistaken, even though she clearly saw we weren’t wearing seat belts. I wished my uncle’s windows were tinted so the she could not see inside, but they weren’t and she might have been able to see anyway. There I sat, silent and guilty, but I did not want to admit guilt. She asked for our IDs and took them back to the car. I knew we were getting a ticket. Sure enough, she came back with our tickets. She said something about how they wear seat belts in California. I probably thought of something really sarcastic to say, but it might have gotten me thrown in jail, so I didn’t.
As we went on our way, I started thinking about how mad I was at the officer. Why did she have to do that? Why not show some mercy? But, she was only doing her job. The fact of the matter is there is a law. The law says everyone in the vehicle must wear a seat belt. I wasn’t wearing one. I am guilty before the law. Even though it was so clear that I was guilty, and even though I knew it, I did not want to admit guilt. I didn’t want to because I knew if I admitted it, there would be consequences. But, the fact is, there are consequences anyway. Thankfully, my parents were nice enough to pay for Deb and I. They rock.
I feel as a Christian that admitting guilt should not be so hard, because that is where you start as a Christian. Admit, your sins, turn from them, believe in Christ to save you from the punishment of it. When witnessing, there is where we need to start also. You can’t preach Jesus until the person sees a need for Him. If they don’t admit they are a sinner, they won’t ever think they need a Savior. Like Jesus said, he came to heal the sick. Only the sick need a physician. If you don’t think you’re sick, you won’t go to the doctor. Same with Christ. If you don’t know you are a sinner, you don’t need a Savior.
As I think about how hard it was to admit that I had broken the law, I think about how miraculous it is that anyone admits their sins before God. We aren’t just talking about not wearing a seat belt. We are talking about lying, stealing, lusting, having false gods, etc. Coming before God and saying, “I am a sinner” despite the clear evidence, despite the unexusableness of our guilt has to be a miracle. I don’t think people easily admit their guilt. For our friends and family who have not come to know Christ, have not admitted to God that they are a sinner, have patience, for this is not a natural thing.