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05
Aug
2010

Grace and the Law

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I answered the telephone and heard, “This is the police calling.  A car registered at your address has been involved in a hit-and-run.”  My heart and breathing stopped.   Our son had recently passed his driver test and he had the car.

It turns out that a stop sign was the victim.  It was not reported but had been witnessed.

I was very relieved in one sense and quite confused in another. I don’t think I would know what to do if it had been me that ran over the stop sign.

They assured me that no one had been hurt.  However, they needed to talk to Andrew.  He was with the Youth Group, so I figured a visit from the police department would be fun for them all.   I told the officer the address and phone number.

Then he asked me what actions I was willing for them to take.   I was surprised by that question and asked him why he asked.  “Well, some parents will not allow any kind of consequence.”  I shook my head a bit and let him know that whatever the appropriate consequences were, and surely there are some, would be okay with me.  It was his turn to be quiet.   I asked what he was going to say to Andrew.  “It all depends on his attitude.  We will discuss what the options are, a fine, jail, repair bill or community service etc., and will let you know.”  I appreciated his manner, approach and attitude.  He did not want to be “The Hammer” but wanted to use the circumstance to teach something to a young driver. He suggested I call Andrew to let him know they were on the way.

Andrew was really rattled.  He had really scared himself and the friend that was in the car.  He felt awful.  Finding out that the police were on the way was not a calming influence.  “Just tell the truth, apologize and be ready for some kind of consequence.”  He was more than a little anxious.  The police arrived and talked with Andrew.  They laid out all the possible punishments.  They asked Andrew if he was sorry, he said he really was.  “All right, since you are obviously sorry and shaken up, the thing you need to do is call the city and let them know which stop sign you ran over.  Be really careful when you drive, especially on streets you don’t know.  I know your car, plate number and what you look like and if this happens again we will be having a different kind of conversation.”

The policeman called me on the way back to the station and said that I had one sheepish looking boy but that he was glad for his response.  I could hear the smile in his voice.  I thanked the policeman for how he handled the situation with my son.  Then he said “My son is about the same age as yours and is going for his driving test in a couple of days.  When this kind of thing happens to him I hope the results are the same.”

Andrew did call the city, paid for a new stop sign and the damage to the car.  It could have been a lot worse.  There sure are harder circumstances to live through with much more significant consequences.  We all learn through consequences and I am glad this lesson was gentle.

As I reflected about the Police officer’s final comment, I was struck by how the police officer dealt graciously with my son because he was considering his own, and how God deals such measures of grace to me because He considers His.

Steve was born in Scotland and grew up in Canada.  He is on the staff of Focus on the Family Canada and is on the speaker team for Family Matters.  Steve married Lois in 1986.  They are parents of Rebekah (who is married to Ben) and Andrew (whose Grandmother calls him Revenge). To inquire about having Steve speak for an event, click HERE.

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