Judy, my friend and colleague – and a highly involved grandmother – returned late one evening from a weekend away, weary to the bone of chasing grandchildren and battling wind at outdoor sports. At home, wanting nothing more than bed, she found the cupboard bare of bread and bottled water. She would have to go to the store, a few blocks away.
“Can I come with you, Grandma?” asked her four-year old granddaughter.
Too weary to argue, Judy agreed. “Ok, but quickly,” she said. “Let’s go right now.” She grabbed her purse and the keys to her son’s vehicle, behind hers in the driveway.
After leaving the store, the child looked at her tired grandmother and realized, with a child’s cunning, that now was the right moment for the wrong question.
“Grandma,” she asked sweetly, “can I sit in the front seat?” A moment later she was riding shotgun. Pressing her good fortune, she made a second request. “Can we stop and get donuts?”
Judy sighed, turned into the donut shop’s drive-through, ordered half a dozen chocolate-glazed donuts and paid with loose change from her purse. Then she steered the car towards home. By now, weariness had long overtaken common sense.
“I looked around, and couldn’t see anyone so I turned into the wrong lane to get to my intersection faster,” she told me later. “It was only a tiny distance. I knew I could make it.”
She knew wrong. “I hadn’t even gotten around the boulevard,” she groaned, “when I saw the police car.” Pulling over, she got out. “I know I shouldn’t have done that,” she said, as the officer approached.
“You don’t have to get out, Ma’am.” He shone his light inside the car and noticed Judy’s granddaughter, eyes wide, mouth ringed with chocolate. “You know,” he said, sternly. “She should be in a car seat. In the back.”
“I know that too. I shouldn’t have done that either.” My friend was panicking now.
The officer turned around. Headed back to his cruiser. “Wait here.”
“Grandma,” called the terrified tyke. “Are you going to get arrested?” Judy wondered too.
“Ma’am, could I see your licence?” the policeman asked, returning to her car. Judy felt suddenly faint. Three strikes, you’re out, she thought. “Uh…it’s in the cubbyhole. Of my own car,” she babbled. “This is my son’s.” Nearly crying now, she prepared to offer her hands for cuffs. “And that’s another thing I know I shouldn’t have done.”
The officer paused. Thought a moment. “Well,” he said, finally. “I was looking for drunk drivers tonight.” Then he sent her home with a warning.
I’d laughed so hard during her story, I could barely stand. “You mean you left without even offering him a donut?” I managed.
“YES!” Judy looked suddenly stricken. “And I shouldn’t have done that either!”
Through Jesus Christ, God offers undeserved grace and mercy to guilty sinners like you and me.
It seems that some cops do the same. Even without a donut.