I noticed cars quickly slowing down in front of me. I put my foot to the brake and came to a complete stop. Soon after the pedestrians crossed the street, traffic picked up again. I was ready to continue on my route when all of a sudden, I heard a loud screeching noise coming from behind, followed by a big BOOM! I looked in my backseat to make sure my daughter was okay. She was. I pulled over, turned on my hazard lights, unbuckled my seatbelt, and rushed out of the car.
I was shaking uncontrollably. I ran over to the young man who had just rear-ended me with full-force. He had turned the corner and I wanted to make sure he didn’t run from the scene. A group of guys on the block reassured me that if he tried to run, they would catch him. I had never met these guys before, but they had my back.
Before I could open my mouth, they were already going off on the young man who rear-ended me. I surveyed his car as they shared some choice words with him. His car’s headlights were smashed and in pieces all over the ground. The entire front bumper had come off of his car. My first questions was, Do you have insurance? He looked at me and said, “No.” I asked him his age. He answered, “Eighteen.” I took a closer look at him and asked his ethnicity. “Latino,” he replied. Before I could get my next question out, I heard a still, small voice (the Holy Spirit) say to me:
“This is your moment to offer grace.”
Lord, are you kidding me? I thought. He just ran into me with my child in the backseat, damaged my car, and he has no insurance. But I heard it again: “This is your moment to offer grace.”
I took a deep breath, looked at the young man and said, “I can’t call the police on you. The system is determined for black and brown men to fail. I don’t want you to go to jail. You still have your whole life ahead of you. You should never drive without insurance because accidents happen.” He apologized and seemed very remorseful. We talked more about how he could best resolve this incident without the police being involved. We agreed that I would get an estimate for my car and that he would do his best to help cover the cost for the damages. He mentioned that he was working and could arrange a payment plan with me. We exchanged contact information and went on our way.
By the time I got home, I had a text message from the young man. He apologized once more. I wrote back and said, “We fully extend grace to you. Go in peace. All is well. We will work something out later.”
Trust me, I am no saint. Everything in me wanted to do the opposite of what I did. I wanted that young man to have consequences for damaging my car and for driving without insurance. But God…sometimes God has a way of changing our response, so that He can get the glory and draw people to Him. I sent that young man a text message later on and explained in detail why I had offered him grace. I told him that God has been so gracious to my family and I. There were times when I deserved consequences for my behavior, but God gave me what I needed instead of what I deserved. I told the young man that because Jesus has offered me grace and saved my life, I wanted to extend that same grace to him. I told him that if it had not been for my relationship with Jesus, my response would have been completely different. Again, he showed his appreciation by thanking me.
I am unsure of whether or not this young man will follow through with his commitment. Even if he doesn’t, I know that my family and I will be okay. Praise the Lord for having one of the safest cars on the market. Our damages were not nearly as bad as that of the young man who hit us. At the most, we will need to have our entire bumper replaced. Grace and I did not have life threatening injuries.
All that to say, whether or not he pays us, I am grateful that my daughter and I are okay. Also, God still got the glory out of this situation and His undeniable grace was shown to the young man who in all honesty deserved consequences for his actions.
This was a defining moment for me. I talk about grace all the time, yet, when the moment came to extend grace, it was so difficult. I felt like this was a reminder to “be about what I talk about.” This was God’s way of checking my heart and reminding me of all the times He extended His loving mercy and tender grace towards me. How dare I be so quick to withhold grace from someone else?
Thank you Jesus for grace upon grace. May we not forget the continual grace God shows us. May we not forget to offer it to others in a world that is already so angry and quick to dish out harsh consequences. May we glorify God by offering His amazing grace today. May God be made known by the way we respond to those who have offended us. Amen.
“And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”- John 1:16