The other day as I pulled into my driveway at the end of a long day at work, I stopped to pull the mail out of the mailbox. As usual, I flipped through the envelopes to see if there was anything “exciting!” A return address caught my eye: City of Memphis Photo Enforcement Program. Immediately, I had a sinking feeling in my heart. I knew what it was before I even opened it.

You see, last Tuesday I was driving to work and my mind was wandering. I really wasn’t paying attention to what was going on around me, caught up in my own thoughts. I got to an intersection and the light was yellow, but I figured it was easier to just keep going instead of slamming on my brakes. So I plowed ahead, only to see the light turn red before I got there. Uh-oh. I wasn’t expecting it to turn so soon.

I looked overhead to see if a camera would flash, capturing my law-breaking sin. It didn’t, and I was hoping that the lack of a flashing camera would save me from the penalty. Nevertheless, I felt badly about what I had done. I knew the consequences could have been unpleasant– I could have hit someone who had moved forward on their green light. I knew that running that red light was wrong, but no one was hurt and I didn’t do it exactly on purpose. Hopefully, no one (that mattered) saw what happened.

When I got the notice in the mail last week, I knew I was guilty and I had to pay the penalty for breaking the law. I truly felt remorse. There was no way to argue my way out of this one or plead my case because they sent pictures to confirm the incident. So today I sat down and watched the video of my “crime” online and immediately wrote out the check to pay the penalty, while praying, “Lord, please don’t let me do this again.”

It made me thankful as I reflected on another penalty that I owed – the penalty for my sins. And yet, God loves me so much that He paid it for me. He paid it for you. Let’s not forget the love bestowed on us through Christ’s death on the cross. I am free. When I paid the penalty for running the red light, it set me free. When Christ paid the penalty for my sins, it set me free for eternity.

Take a moment to thank Him for paying the penalty for your sins. Thank Him for setting you free.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have you ever had to pay the penalty for something you did that was wrong, like running a red light or speeding? How did you feel?