When was the last time you looked in your rear view mirror and saw the unwelcome, flashing red lights of a police car, signaling you to pull over? You may need a few minutes to recall your last encounter; unfortunately, mine is still fresh in my mind.
I was on my way home a few weeks ago, when out of nowhere, a police car suddenly appeared in my rear view mirror. The flashing red lights not only alerted me to his presence but also ushered me to the side of the road. As I stopped the car and waited for the policeman to make his way to my car, I replayed my last few minutes behind the wheel. Was I speeding? No. I just turned on to this street. Did I forget to use my turn signal when I made that last turn? No. I remember hearing the click, click, click of the signal while I sat at the intersection waiting for traffic to clear so I could make my way to the median. When I merged into traffic did I cut someone off? No. I had waited for all the traffic to clear before I had ventured out into the street. I was clueless.
"Good Evening, Ma'am. Do you know why I pulled you over?" he asked matter-of-factly.
"No, Officer," I answered, "I have no idea."
"Have you had anything to drink tonight?"
"Nothing at all?"
"I need to see your driver's license and your registration."
I reached over, opened the glove compartment and quickly located the requested paper.
"Here is my registration. My driver's license is in my purse, which is in the trunk."
As he stepped away from my door, I exited the car and made my way to the trunk of my car, still wondering what this was all about. As I reached for my purse, the officer started to explain the reason for this stop.
"Ma'am, you gave me every reason to believe you were driving under the influence. You sat at that stop sign a long time before you entered the roadway. Then again, once in the median, you waited an unusually long time before merging into the westbound lane."
The officer was right. Well, almost right. I had taken my time at that last intersection, but not because I had been drinking. No one was behind me, so I saw no need to dart out into oncoming traffic. I had opted to simply be patient and wait until all was clear.
"Officer," I answered. "I can assure you I haven't been drinking. I just decided to wait until all the traffic passed before I turned onto the road."
"Please have a seat in your vehicle and I will be with you momentarily."
As I waited for the officer to return, I realized I had caught this officer's attention simply because my behavior at that intersection was different from that of most other drivers. Unfortunately, he thought this difference was a result of me tipping the bottle.
"O.K, Ma'am", the officer said as he reappeared at my window with my driver's license and registration in hand, "You are free to go."
As I pulled away from the curb, I thought about this experience. I am a firm believer that life is full of teachable moments. I was pretty sure God was going to use this experience to teach me.
As Christians, we are called to live our life differently than those who have not yet been transformed by the power of Christ. There should be something noticeably different about us. Whether we are aware of it or not, people are watching us. I hadn't seen the policeman, but obviously, he had seen me! Fortunately, the officer wasn't able to arrest me for drunk driving because there simply wasn't any evidence for him to convict me. I was sober.
Gently, I felt the Lord prompting my heart. What if this officer had instead accused me of being a Christian? Would he have found enough evidence to convict me then? Do my words, my actions, the day to day way I live my life give testimony to Christ alive in me? What a sobering thought!
Arriving home, I pulled into my driveway and turned off the engine. Before heading indoors, I spent a few moments alone with the Lord, in the stillness of the night. As I opened my heart before my Heavenly Father, He brought the words of Matthew 5:16 to my mind.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Yes...the Lord had been faithful to use a routine traffic stop to remind me to live my life in a way that is anything BUT routine. Where ever I go and whatever I do, people are watching. May the world see Christ in me....this is the prayer of my heart.