Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Car Accident and the Gift of Grace

This Saturday, I was out running an errand.
The parking lot was rather crowded, and as I started my car I noticed another car with its turn signal on, ready to take my spot.
In the crowded parking lot, which had very little room to maneuver cars, my attention was fixed on the waiting car and I failed to look behind me properly.
As I pulled out of the space and completed the turn, I heard a small scraping sound.
It took a few seconds for me to realize that I had nicked the bumper of the car parked behind me.

With a pit in my stomach, I stepped out of the car to inspect the damage.
It was just a paint exchange--some of it would probably wipe off...
But I knew I had to leave a note for the owner so, with a heavy heart I sat down in the front seat to find some paper and a pen.
As I gathered my things, I noticed a man start walking across the parking lot toward the car I had bumped.
I hastily got out of the car and, as he walked up to the driver's door asked, "Is this your car? I am so sorry, but I think I may have nicked your bumper when I was pulling out..."
He surveyed the damage for a few moments while I waited nervously beside him.
"I was just getting ready to leave you a note with my information," I offered lamely.
After inspecting the car thoroughly, he turned, looked at me, squeezed my arm, and said, "It happens."

We conversed for a few minutes and I assured him that I could take care of it,
but he insisted that it was okay.
As we shook hands and parted ways he asked for my name and said, "Just do something nice for someone today. Forgive someone you don't want to, okay?"

I thanked him profusely, but as I drove away frustration mingled with my relief.
I was really upset with myself for the mistake I had made, and I still felt guilty about the man's car.
And the further I drove, the more upset I became.
At some point I thought, "It's so much easier to give mercy than to be the recipient!"
And instantly, the fact came into my mind that I am eternally indebted to One who has given a great deal more mercy to me than the kind man in the parking lot.

I've often wondered why I couldn't suffer for my own sins--why do we need a Savior?
Is there some eternal law dictating the need for a scapegoat--a perfect, sinless offering--before salvation can be obtained? Am I incapable of paying the full price? Or is the price of sin so great that I would have to experience eternal torment to make up for the wrongdoings of day-to-day life?
But as I pondered my experience in the parking lot, I also found myself wondering,
"Am I so fixated on wanting to make up for my wrong doings that I fail to be properly grateful? Am I wasting so much time being upset with myself that I fail to accept the grace of God?"

As I considered these and other questions, my heart gradually softened.
I knew I had to humble myself, forgive myself, accept the man's kind offering, and then focus on gratitude toward him instead of frustration with myself.
I've been thinking about the experience as the weekend has progressed,
and evaluating my own attitude toward the Savior's Gift of grace He has given me--incurring a debt I will never repay.
And though I may not ever fully understand it,
I grow ever more grateful.


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