Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Truth Set Me Free

"Then you will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free."
John 8:32

"He will keep you strong to the end,
so that you will be blameless on the day of
our Lord Jesus Christ. God who called you
into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord
is faithful." ~ 1 Corinthians 1:8-9

(Part One of a Three-Part Testimony)

Flashing blue and red lights in my rear view mirror commanded me to pull over. Surprised at this unexpected encounter, my heart jumped as I carefully looked for a safe place to pull my car to the side of the road.

After just dropping Joshua off at his friend's house for a sleep over (a few nights before Thanksgiving), Gabrielle and I were driving home on beautiful River Road along the Delaware River in Bucks County. As I turned onto another quiet country road, she was chatting with her girlfriend on my cell phone when the lights lit up the evening sky behind me and interrupted our peaceful ride home.

Startled by the patriotic flashing lights, Gabrielle told her friend she needed to hang up quickly because "my mom is getting pulled over". Happy day.

I asked Gabrielle to call dad just to have his presence on the other end of the phone as it was dark and we were in a somewhat remote part of our county. 

Jim always has my car registration, latest inspection report and insurance card neatly placed in a zipped pouch next to my driver's seat. I calmly gathered my paperwork and license and waited for the officer while Gabrielle was comforted on the phone with her daddy on the other end. 

The police officer turned a spotlight on my vehicle which nearly blinded me as it reflected off my side view mirror. I saw his image cautiously approaching my car. His posture spoke volumes: he was suspicious.

Shining his flashlight in my face, we greeted each other awkward hellos.  Handing him my paperwork I said, 

"May I ask you why you pulled me over?"

"You were speeding. You were going over 40 in a 25 mph zone."

"I was?  Where is it 25 mph?"

"Just before you made your turn, the speed reduces to 25 mph."

Ugh. I guess I missed that sign! The officer was right then. I was exceeding the speed limit for that short span of road. Feeling sick and thinking about the waste of money the ticket would be (especially just before the Christmas season), my remorse quieted my heart and my lips. 

Until the officer's next words:

"So, not only were you speeding, but you have been drinking too?"

Shocked by his false accusation and conclusion, my countenance contorted as I looked at him and said, "Excuse me?"

"You have been drinking, ma'am. I smell alcohol."

"I have bread in the car to make Thanksgiving stuffing, I have mint gum in my mouth and I am wearing Cherry Blossom perfume. I don't know what you smell, but I have not been drinking. I don't drink alcohol at all."

"Well, I smell alcohol. I think you've been drinking." 

Offended by his false accusation but knowing the truth, I responded: "You can go ahead and test me. I haven't been drinking. I don't drink alcohol."

Then from the back seat the quiet, tearful, scared but sure voice of my daughter sweetly entered the conversation:

"My mommy doesn't drink. My mommy doesn't drink. My mommy doesn't drink."

Tears streamed down my face and a lump in my throat made it almost impossible for me to swallow. My sweet Gabrielle was scared. But in the midst of fear and uncertainty, she spoke up on my behalf. 

My daughter had my back. With whispers she fervently repeated the truth.

Quietly, but with surety, she spoke up from the back seat and said what she knew was true:

"My mommy doesn't drink." 

As tears rolled down my cheeks, I silently thanked the Lord, Thank You, Lord, that my daughter can say that and speak the truth with absolute surety.

Locking eyes with the officer, I told him that my 10-year old daughter was scared. I asked him to please be sensitive that an impressionable child was in the car listening, absorbing and observing.

"Hang tight."  

Walking back to his patrol car with my paperwork, I reached back and held Gabrielle's hand and told her how much I loved her. She handed me my phone so Jim and I could quickly chat while the officer was in his car. I told Jim that, while they pulled me over for exceeding the speed limit, I was now suspected of driving while under the influence of alcohol. Jim spoke calming words to my heart and also told me to ask the officer for mercy for exceeding the speed limit.

Suddenly in the dark night sky, there were more flashing lights approaching us. More patrol cars surrounding my vehicle. What is going on? I thought.

"Mommy, I am scared. I am so scared. Why are they doing this? I am scared, Mommy."

I handed my cell phone back to Gabrielle so she could hear her father's loving voice on the other end during this very unexpected and unsettling event.

"I love the LORD
because He hears my voice
and my supplications."
Psalm 116:1

More officers were arriving on the scene and looking at me like I was a criminal. It sickened my heart that people were coming to conclusions about me without knowing the truth. Without really knowing me.

Guilty of one thing. Suspected of something else. I was stunned.

The officer returned to my window.

"I called for back-up because I didn't have a PBT in my patrol car."

"What is a PBT?"

"Portable Breathalyzer Test. You said I could test you, so I am."

" know that the testing of your faith
develops perseverance. Perseverance must
finish its work so that you may be
mature and complete, not lacking anything."
James 1:3-4

I think my jaw dropped. I knew the truth: I had not been drinking. I don't drink. But he was going to test me. I knew he was just doing his job to protect and serve. But I wanted him to protect me and my daughter!

A bit of panic set in. What if the Listerine I used this morning shows up? What if somehow this test shows bad results? What will he do with me and what will happen to Gabrielle?

My quiet stream of tears became audible sobs. My heart was grieved.

But from the back seat, the truthful, soothing words of my courageous daughter who quietly but consistently continued to speak up on my behalf in her time of fear when her mommy was suspected of doing something she didn't do.

"My mommy doesn't drink, officer. My mommy doesn't drink."

"My daughter is scared, officer. This is making an impression on her. Please be sensitive to that."

Nodding in understanding, he unwrapped the PBT. Instructing me to blow in it like I was blowing up a balloon, I was intent on being respectful to and cooperative with the officer even though this was humiliating and offensive.

The officer looked at the screen and the results showed what I knew to be true.  What my daughter knew to be true.

"My mommy doesn't drink."

The officer seemed surprised by the results. He was certain he smelled alcohol. He was sure I was guilty.

"Wow. You are right. You are completely clean."

"Yes, I know."

By His grace, I am clean.

Surrounded by suspicion. Others come to conclusions about you when they didn't really make the investment to know you or the truth about you. Back-up is called in and you look guilty to onlookers and those passing by.

The truth will set you free. 

Apart from Christ, there is no good in me. "You are my Lord; apart from You I have no good thing." (Psalm 16:2) But as I abide in Him and endeavor to live an honorable, blameless life before Him, He keeps me on the narrow path and protects me.  "Righteousness guards the man of integrity..." (Proverbs 13:6)

And serendipitously, a sweet, courageous, quiet voice comes from the back seat speaking the truth on your behalf. "...testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to Me." (John 18:37)  

My Sweet Gabrielle

I told the officer the truth, but he didn't believe me. So God spoke the truth through an angel, my daughter. Through her tears, she spoke up for me.

"Speak up for those who cannot 
speak for themselves..."
Proverbs 31:8

There is value in knowing the truth. There is life in knowing the truth. "Your word has given me life." (Psalm 119:50) 

And as we respond with respect and cooperation to the testing, He can do a necessary work in our hearts.

God beautifully showed His faithfulness to me in this very unexpected, unsettling event. I was surrounded and suspected. Humiliated and offended. But He sent a quiet, loving, sure voice to speak the truth on my behalf. 

A daughter speaking up for her momma. She stood as my sister in Christ defending me. Defending the truth.

Apart from Christ, I have no good thing. That's the truth. He allows testing in my life so I am mature and complete, not lacking anything. By His grace, He holds me firmly in His grip. He gives me life and strengthens me so that I am blameless. Thank You, Lord.

"The Lord your God is with you,
He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing."
Zephaniah 3:17


Karen Scheuer said...

Whoa - wonderful story. I love that you had Jim on the phone. Sweet Gabriella!

Cheryll Black said...

Sharon, only you!
I love and admire how you see and use every circumstance in your life to apprehend the Word of God as a reality in your life. The Word is true and is always faithful. Because of that, you are a faithful servant and testimony to me and so many others.
I cannot wait to read the continued testimony...

Rachel Olsen said...

Gracious! What an ordeal. Glad it ended well.

Love to you!