Thursday, March 10, 2011

Speeding through Knoxville

I had taken our oldest son away to college for his freshman year at a school in Kentucky a week earlier.  They had an optional adventure week in the wilderness for incoming freshman, so the dorms weren’t open when I left him there.  The plan was to drive back home, load up his stuff, and come back the next week when it was time to move in.  I made the 6 ½ hour drive each way in one day with no problem.

The following week, my wife and I were driving up to Kentucky with our son’s clothing and dorm furnishings for the semester.  We were looking forward to seeing him one more time before school started.  Most of the drive was on I-75, a pretty straight shot except through Knoxville, where I-75 and I-40 split.  To stay on I-75, you have to get in the right lane and take the ramp to another section of the interstate.

On my initial trip, I hadn’t noticed anything unusual around Knoxville.  I was cruising along, not really listening to the female voice from the GPS.  I mean, really, how many men pay attention to a female voice telling them when and where to change lanes or take an exit?  We know where we’re going.  But all of a sudden, I realized I was in the far left lane, the “fast” lane, and I had to get across to the far right lane to take the exit ramp.  There were several trucks in the way, so I got to play one of my favorite driving games … accelerate past the trucks while moving across four or five lanes on the freeway.  I was successful in making the exit, and only had to hit 75 mph, which was well within my perceived tolerance level of the posted speed limit of 65.  But then, I saw flashing blue lights behind me.

In my youth, let’s say through my 20’s, or maybe 30’s, I received my fair share of speeding tickets.  I thought, “Well, it’s been awhile, but it shouldn’t be too bad.”  I was nervous though when the officer approached my window.  He asked me where we were going, and I explained that we were taking our son’s stuff to him for his freshman year of college.  He then informed me that I was in a construction zone, and the speed limit was 45.  I had no idea it was a construction zone!  There were no workers and I had been so intent on getting past the trucks, I hadn’t seen the signs.  He had clocked me at about 70, and I knew that was bad news.  He asked for my license and registration.  My wife had already pulled the registration from the glove box, and I nervously gave him a card out of my wallet.  He handed it back to me and told me he needed my license, not my American Express card.  I laughed and stifled a comment about bribing an officer, and with my hands shaking, handed my license to him. 

He went back to his patrol car for several minutes.  When he returned, he told me that excessive speeding in a construction zone carried a minimum fine of $500 and suspension of my driver’s license.  At that, I thought I was going to need a pair of Depends!  But then, for some reason, he handed my license and registration to me, and told me he wouldn’t write a ticket.  He told me to slow down and have a safe trip the rest of the way, and then he followed us for a couple of miles as we drove away. 

We stopped for dinner and recovered from shock, thankful for his kindness and for God’s protection.  We had a good laugh about handing the officer my American Express card that I had pulled out of my wallet out of habit.  I guess Knoxville doesn’t accept American Express!


  1. So, if you had gotten a ticket, would that still have been God's protection? You know, I've been thinking about this a LOT lately. We say we're thankful for God's __________ (whatever) and usually say it when it's something good. I've rarely heard someone say it about actually 'getting the ticket', or 'having your power turned off', or 'getting fired', or 'replacing the engine on your car'. Just food for thought my friend! :-)

  2. Good food for thought Brenda. From what I remember about the incident, I don't think I would say it would have been God's protection if I had received a ticket. But then, I don't know what was ahead that I avoided when I was stopped. Perhaps the more pertinent question would be would I have been thankful if I had gotten a ticket. Again, I would say no, I doubt I would have been thankful for that.

    Receiving a ticket would have been a consequence of my actions. The fact that I didn't realize I was in a construction zone didn't negate the fact that I was in violation of the law. But the mercy I received from the police officer serves as a great example of the mercy and grace we receive from God when we mess up. I was thankful for the grace and mercy I received that day.

  3. I have wondered the same thing that Brenda mentioned above many times lately. If God is in control of EVERYTHING ... and we are to be thankful for the 'good things' ... like good health, a safe and comfortable home, a good job, etc. ... what about the bad things, like if someone breaks into that 'safe' home and rapes or kills a loved one ... something that, unlike the speeding ticket, is NOT a consequence of someone's actions. How can anyone be 'thankful' for that??? How could anyone say that was 'God's will' ... which if we say God is in control of everything and nothing happens that He doesn't allow, IS everything really controlled by God???? I know, I know ... about sin and living in a sinful world with Satan running loose and reeking (?) havoc, ... I get that part, but to me, it seems like if God is letting Satan "loose on mankind" ... then Satan is controlling much of what goes on, not God. Can this be true? Am I not seeing this right? I am really struggling with this particular issue right now. I don't know why it has just now become an "issue" for me ... but I think about it often. Maybe because I work with some people who are not believers and they ask these very simple and honest questions like that ... to which I have absolutely no answer. I cannot explain "thank God for the good stuff but don't blame Him for the bad." And I am not being facetious or argumentative or trying to invoke any controversy, not at ALL, ... you know I grew up believing exactly as you did, Joel, so any words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated and accepted!! I just don't know what to say to someone who did NOT grow up being taught about God and His love for us and having faith and all of that, things I have just always believed. I am finding that I don't have answers for some things that I have "always believed" ... which makes me wonder ... am I believing right or am I just accepting it because it's all I've ever known? It is not a good place to be, ... but I find myself there, nonetheless.