Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Innocent but Charged AND Guilty but Free

Yesterday, when I checked the mail, I had no idea how it would affect my next 24 hours. It seemed pretty standard. Some coupons, an advertisement, a few bills....and at the bottom of the stack, a letter to me from the City of Arlington. (Back story: In late January, I was pulled over for having out-of-state tags. Since I am one credit hour short of being a full-time student, James and I had to go ahead and become Texas residents. We got our vehicles inspected and got new titles and registration at the DMV. Since we turned in our paperwork on time, we went back to our normal routine.) I figured this letter would be a receipt for that transaction.

But it wasn't. It was a warrant for my arrest.


Apparently when we turned out stuff in to the court, we faxed a copy of my registration and sent in a photo of my new Texas plates by mail. Though we were told they could be received separately, somewhere, things got crossed, and the city of Arlington didn't show that I had proof of registration. They only had photos.

No warning. No courtesy phone call. Just a warrant for my arrest. (With a $500 bail fee.)

Normally, I think I might have been able to have a sense of humor about this. But with graduation a month away and pressing school deadlines, a busy season with my job, and not to mention, the week of Easter when I'm married to a pastor....there is not extra time in my week right now to deal with anything else. There is nothing funny about this.

By this time, it was already 5pm, so the court was closed for the day. Ironically, I just had to go to praise team rehearsal (you know, where most criminals go) and wait it out until this morning.

More back story. In addition to getting my Texas plates, we also had to get our Texas driver's licenses. Well, my Tennessee license still had my maiden name on it....and while my license still had my maiden name, I couldn't change my social security card because the names on both cards are supposed to be the same. (By the way, both offices want you to get the OTHER one changed first. It's a blast.) So, I filed to get a new social security card, and it finally came in the mail. Now, I could get my Texas license.

Except I didn't just get to fill out the transfer license form. Because you see, in the time period of waiting on my new social security card to get here, my license expired...and the state of Texas doesn't even give one day's grace period. If you have an expired license, you have to start all over again. So like a 15-year-old, I had to take the written driver's exam. PLUS, I had to make an appointment to come back and take the actual DRIVING test...which was schedule for today.

Do I need to remind you that there's a warrant for my arrest?

So this morning, I get together all of my life documents, and James and I head to the driver's license office for me to take my exam. I arrive at 7:30, get the first appointment for 8:30, and we waited. The examiner comes out to my car, asks for my insurance, and I hand it over.

It expired on March 28.

Today is March 31.

REALLY?! What insurance expires on the 28th of the month?!

So, I go back inside, make my second appointment for 10:15am, and James and I go to his office so State Farm can fax us an updated copy of our insurance.

While we're waiting on that, I decide to call the warrant office. Guess what? They need proof that my car was covered on the day that I was pulled over. We call and get that faxed to us as well.

Our insurance agent sent us the right insurance...but for the wrong vehicle. Take 2.

Around 10am, we head back to the driver's license test with updated insurance and even MORE forms. Trying to be calm, I go through the practical driving exam....even suffer through parallel parking, although I was really tempted when he asked me to parallel park to step out of my car and yell, "JAMES!" (Because that's REALLY how I parallel park.)

I pass. Whew. One thing out of the way. It's around 11am now, and we headed down to the Arlington Municipal Court. After waiting in line, I hand the woman behind the counter all of the documentation that I have and explain my case.

"Oh, well, you need to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles and pay your penalty fee for getting a ticket," she says.

"Which is?" I ask.

"We show that you paid for your ticket when you sent in the photo of your new plates, but you have to pay a penalty fee to the DMV. It will probably be about $10."

If I wasn't frustrated before, now I'm REALLY feeling it. If I needed to go to the DMV first, why in the world would the form send me to the Municipal Court?!

I wasn't going to get anywhere by arguing, so James and I just drove to the DMV, paid our $8.15 penalty fee, and drove back to the court. More waiting.

On a positive note, I got a phone call while we were waiting that the fax of my proof of insurance went through. There is no longer a warrant for my arrest at this point. Awesome....glad to know I'm no longer a criminal since I did everything to follow through on my end in the first place!

At this point, I've gathered quite a stack of paperwork. After giving the woman behind the counter what seemed like 15 different documents, she was finally satisfied. Writing one more check for the day, James and I walked out. Now, it's a little after noon, and we are both exhausted.

After arriving home, I couldn't help but think about how much time was wasted this morning. IF the city had called me to let me know they were missing documentation. IF the social security office hadn't given me such a hard time about not having changed my license first. IF the driver's license office had let me renew my license on time without waiting for my new social security card to come in. IF my car insurance card had been valid just three more days. IF they had told me to pay the penalty fee at the DMV before I drove to the courthouse...etc, etc, etc.

I finally just broke down and cried. Tears of frustration. Tears of guilt for wasting my husband's morning during a busy week. Tears of exhaustion. Tears of being treated like a criminal when I had done nothing wrong.

Realizing I wasn't going to get anywhere with my day until I stopped to pray for patience, I felt my Savior ask, "Michelle, how do you think it felt when you did that to me?"

Because he was charged for a crime that he didn't commit. Not just any crime. My crime. Your crime.

He was arrested....betrayed by one of his best friends...while he was praying. He went before Caiaphas, the high priest. That wasn't enough. He then appeared before Pilate. He was beaten. The crowd spit on him. His closest friends denied they even knew Him. The crowd chose to release a murderer into society instead of releasing Jesus. The very people that He came to save were shouting, "CRUCIFY HIM!"

They humiliated him. They put him through an excruciating death.

But Jesus wasn't frustrated. With humility that I cannot even grasp, He pleaded to his Father, "Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34).

Jesus wasn't just talking about the crowd who was gathered around the cross when He spoke those words. We've all sinned. We all fall short of God's glory. (Romans 3:23). I may not have physically driven the nails into his hands, but it was my sin that nailed Jesus to that cross. I am guilty. I deserve death.

But I'm free. When Christ suffered for my sin, it was so He could bring me to God - the righteous for the unrighteous. (1 Peter 3:18).There's no penalty fee waiting for us on this earth. There's no outstanding warrant waiting for us when we get to heaven.

If we simply confess that we are sinners, that Jesus came and lived a sinless life as an atonement for our sins, and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved. (Romans 10:9-10).

As frustrating as the past 24 hours have been, I am so thankful that I got a fresh touch from God today. Yet another reminder of why my life is not about me...but about Him - and that He receives the glory for my life.

It is my deepest desire that everyone have the assurance that Christ's death covered your sins ONCE and for ALL....if you just believe in Him. After you believe in Him, you start to walk with HIm...because whoever says He lives in Christ must walk as Jesus did. (1 John 2:6). It is the journey of a lifetime....with a final destination more glorious than the greatest imagination.

I hope the lyrics to Chris Tomlin's "My Chains Are Gone" have a new meaning for you as we approach our Savior's death and resurrection this weekend. Please leave a comment on this post if you have questions about what it means to have a personal relationship with Christ. There's nothing I would rather do than tell you about our Savior.

"My chains are gone.
I've been set free.
My God, my Savior has ransomed me.
And like a flood His mercy reigns.
Unending love, Amazing grace."


Anonymous said...

I am very touched by this story Michelle.. As I write this I have tears in my eyes.. You are a wonderful beautiful woman with tremendous faith.. Thank you for coming into my life..

In Him,
Michelle Wagner

Turbo Min said...

OMG Michelle you are such an amazign person. This similar thing just happened to me and I didn't handle it the same way... instead I was complaining thinking poor me and Im thankful to have met you and get to read your blogs! You remind me what this life is about and I should have prayed instead of being selfish! I actually stopped reading this and started to pray AGAIN Thanks for everything! GOD BLESS

Mindy Kinsella

Mark Rekers said...

Michelle - This is an amazing post and a great reminder of what Jesus Christ did for us. Our earthly struggles will never compare to the horrific spiritual and physical torment our Lord endured. Here is a great tool for sharing the Gospel,, that your and your readers might be interested in. We also have it in booklet form. Let me know what you think. Thanks for all you do for the Kingdom sister!

Michelle Myers said...

Michelle and Mindy, I'm thankful you're both in my life. Thanks for your encouragement! And Mark, that's an AWESOME resource. Thanks for sharing! God bless all of you!

Hilda Osorio said...

I am so glad I read this! It has put my heart in the right place today. Thank you for sharing. :)

Elena Oppedisano said...

Sorry you had to go through such turmoil, Michelle, but as you can find an answer to everything in God's word. You can relate ANY circumstance in your life to what Jesus went through.

I'm so glad I found your blog. It has inspired me to start one to relate my business to my Christianity entitled, "I'm The Bookkeeper, But God's The C.P.A." (coming soon!!)

Also...I LOVE Chris Tomlin. I listen to The Message on my XM station and I fell in love with his voice. "I Will Rise' gives me chills too


ErinHans said...

Wow! This post just gave me chills! Jesus is so AMAZING!!!!

Michelle Myers said...

Amen, Erin! :)