Updated: Apr 20, 2022
Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Matthew 7:1-3 NASB
For months, Carol had planned a family vacation to Mexico, the whole family including husbands and grandkids, fifteen of us. The day before we were to leave, we learned that one of the kid’s passports had expired. I felt angry and went into a slow burn. “How irresponsible! How inconsiderate! This could ruin the vacation. It will break Carol’s heart.” Many prayers were said (putting God to the test), and miraculously, we got through the airport security at SeaTac and the expired passport wasn’t caught. However, it was caught in Mexico, but a compassionate immigration official walked us through. By the way, I think everyone had an amazing time together.
Returning through the airport in Mexico, there were hiccups, but the expired passport made it back to Seattle and through Immigration. One part of me was happy and relieved for them. Another part of me was irritated because there were no consequences to their irresponsibility. “They won’t learn anything from this. It is undeserved. I would never be so irresponsible!”
We picked up luggage and moved toward our parking arrangements. One of the families rode with me. I had parked at a cheap, no-name parking lot miles from the airport. I started looking for my parking ticket. Hmm. Not in the usual places. Hmm. Can’t find it. Everyone is looking at me. I cannot remember the name of the lot. Jet-something. “Well, let’s go to the shuttle drop off.” Embarrassing, especially considering my self-righteous attitude about the expired passport. But eventually, with the help of other family members, we figured out the right lot and the name of the shuttle we were to take. This is humbling and a little irresponsible, but NOTHING like letting your passport expire. At least that is what I kept telling myself.
At home the next day, there were notices to renew tabs on Carol’s car. While on the website, there was a notice that the tabs on my car had expired. “No way! This must be a mistake.” I went downstairs to look at my license plate. The tabs expired March of 2020! I had been driving with expired tabs for 18 months! Hmm.
I have learned that God often answers prayers and guides us through other people. At this point in the saga, a friend of mine reminded me about God’s grace. Going through no fewer than seven different checkpoints with an expired passport is grace. Grace is undeserved kindness. Hmm. Not deserved. Oh, yeah. I had observed it and not appreciated it. Grace was my family helping with the parking debacle. That’s right. I didn’t deserve it. Grace was driving with expired tabs for year and half. Again, I didn’t deserve it.
I have received grace from God in so very many ways, but now I am a sermon illustration for grace! I am the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son – Luke 15:25-32. I am Jonah complaining of the dead shade plant after an entire city repents – Jonah 4:5-11. Consequences? Learning from my mistakes? I am so grateful that through God’s grace – His love and forgiveness – I haven’t had to experience all the consequences of my actions or learn from all my mistakes. Well, I did learn something about grace.