Julie picked up her husband’s suit at the dry cleaners, noting the all-too-familiar surroundings and gasped. Just across the street was Centerville Superior Court where she’d faced her incarcerated son in court last month. “Why did Brian make me drive out here?” Yet she realized she had to run his errands today so they could go to the wedding tonight.
Heading back home, she realized she’d have to turn down Parker Street and face the court house again. Instead, she made a U-turn back onto Main Street. She froze as bright red and blue lights flashed in her rearview mirror; her heart raced as she heard a slamming car door and footsteps behind her. A stocky-built policeman approached her car as she rolled down her window.
“I made an illegal U-turn? I’m so sorry, sir….” She stammered as her trembling hand searched for her wallet.
“Calm down, lady, I’m only giving you a warning this time…..I’ll need to see your license and registration……”
Relieved she was spared a ticket, Julie started home, but felt condemned. Just the semblance of any vehicle with flashing lights made her hyperventilate. Although she’d never been in trouble herself, she’d managed to raise two sons who’d both been arrested.
She passed children playing in their yards and thought about her older son. Her mind traveled back twenty summers ago. Just days after they’d moved into their new home someone was at her front door. From the angry knock she knew it wasn’t the neighborhood Welcome Wagon. She’d almost fainted as she stared into the stern dark eyes of a policeman who was looking for 11-year-old Gavin. Traumatized, she thought she was having a nightmare as she learned Gavin had been vandalizing construction sites. Flashbacks of the officer handcuffing her son in her kitchen still haunted her.
Years later she had to throw Gavin out of the house because of his drug addiction. Regrettably, she’d transferred all her hopes on Jonathan, his younger brother. Then shortly after Jonathan left for college he, too, started getting into trouble.
She thought about one of the happiest days in her life when she picked up her two adopted sons at The Children’s Home Society. Hadn’t I planned to be a godly mother? What went wrong?
Then she thought about her late Grandma Bessie who always said, “If my kids mess up, then lock up Grandma.” Feeling like a criminal herself, she’d been dodging social functions and wished she hadn’t promised her husband she’d go with him to the wedding tonight.
But it wasn’t just any wedding. Both widowed, the bride and groom, were elderly and had been given a second chance at happiness. It would also be a milestone for her, too, just getting out of the house.
Later as she got ready for the wedding, she argued, How can I face people? Yet, she dressed anyway.
As usual Brian was late. They rushed to the church. As they entered the sanctuary, Julie pulled Brian to the back pews where she could hide. She studied the families sitting up front. The bride, 72, had raised seven godly children; the groom, 78, had three sons, and both had an army of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Then there’s my dysfunctional family, she sighed, choking back tears.
A failure, she felt condemned by God, that “great big policeman in the sky” as Grandma Bessie used to call Him.
Maude Perkins, a meddlesome old woman from church, took a seat next to her. Great! She’s even starting to look like Grandma Bessie. Julie thought, feeling convicted again. Convinced she probably knew about her son, she buried her head in a pew bible.
Maude nudged her, whispering, “Ya know….the best man, the groom’s son, is a walkin’ miracle….. Did ya know that he was once behind bars? But, land sakes alive, child, look at him today---servin’ God in a prison ministry.”
Filled with some renewed hope, Julie forced a half-smile, but continued staring down at her opened bible. Her eyes fell on the words, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.*”
As the old couple said their “I do’s”, Julie silently vowed, Lord, I do,, promise to walk in your grace and not in Satan’s condemnation. Just as the bride and groom, she thanked God for a new beginning.
And thank you, Lord, I’m not “locked up” anymore… No more condemnation! You’re more than Grandma Bessie’s great big policeman in the sky.
*Romans 8:1 (NKJV)
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