I have often said of the DMV, the Department of Motor Vehicles, “I hate them.” This sentiment could not ring truer than it did a month ago when I received a notice of a violation. I exclaimed, like former Mayor Ed Koch did about so many things, “This is an outrage!” Fortunately, I had the very documents needed to completely refute this charge and prepared and submitted my evidence for ‘hearing via mail’.
Family issues kept me out of town for a while but when I returned I saw the DMV envelope in my mail. An uneasy feeling came over me and, sure enough, I opened it to see “Case adjourned for further evidence.” W h a a t? Impossible. As a NYS Parole Officer, I prepared hundreds of administrative court hearings. I knew standards of evidence and burdens of proof. While even more outraged, I had to stop and search what the Lord was teaching me.
I know that our Father in Heaven is not only watching over big life issues but seeks to reveal Himself and grow us spiritually, step by step, through ‘ordinary’ events. What we learn through the mundane can take root for critical trials and testing later. (Although for me, being falsely accused then denied justice is never ‘mundane’!)
I prepared to present this case to a law judge, with irrefutable evidence, documents, and even a closing argument. NYS had nothing but an erroneous allegation. How could I lose?
I restrained my fleshly zeal however, and began to meditate upon possible spiritual life lessons from the Lord. I believe that Jesus was not stirring me to be ‘F. Lee Bailey’ but working to conform me to His image. That “image” includes being ‘falsely accused’ and ‘wrongly punished’. One teacher summed so much of God’s word, “The path of glory is the path of unjust suffering.” While not facing torture or prison at the DMV, this case revealed spiritual immaturity within me.
“The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord” (Prov 21:1) declares the divine truth, exemplified in scripture, that Sovereign God can raise up powerful enemies to chastise His people or defeat powerful forces to reveal His mercy and justice. Trusting and surrendering quelled my ‘outrage’ and my heart was ready to see the Lord’s outcome…even if I lost the case.
Today was the day!
I arrived at the DMV hearing office before the judge. Oddly, everyone showed kindness to me. The receptionist who assigned my case actually had a church bulletin tacked on the wall – from my church! This started an exciting conversation where she, not a church goer, was invited to church by someone who had awaited a hearing. I was truly humbled that a Christian came prepared, not only to ‘win’ some case but to share the Gospel and invite DMV staff to church. I encouraged this affable lady to seek the Lord and come to a service. So far, I was enjoying the Department of Motor Vehicles. (can’t even believe I wrote that!)
Not only was I the first case, but, after a friendly welcome, the judge said, “You’re the only case on the calendar.” I ‘solemnly affirmed to tell the truth’ and began presenting my case. When I described and submitted my first document the judge declared, “This case is dismissed!” I was so surprised that I added, “But I have even more evidence!” (btw, that is the wrong thing to say once you’ve won a case!)
I left DMV so elated…but humbled as well. Instead of just preparing my case, my heart’s priority should have been, am I prepared to share the Gospel, to whom might I encounter?
I don’t believe the Lord was teaching me that I can win, I believe that He is training my heart to trust Him when I may be 100% right and still lose. I do want to declare, as King David, “Praise be to the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.” but also accept Peter’s call to, “…live as servants of God…if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.”
Exhorting believers to humble obedience, John writes, “Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.” Win or lose Lord, help me walk through it all like You.