Last Friday, my wife and I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary. There’s generally not too much hoopla in our house over our anniversary, though I usually try to surprise Diana in some way, usually with dinner. I always tell her, when she asks where we’re going, that we’re going to Subway. Of course, she’s smart enough to figure out that this is usually a decoy, since I’ve used the same shtick for several years now.
What I had planned was to take her to the Olive Garden. The only problem with that is that the closest one is in Buffalo, New York. So, when she was otherwise distracted, I took her birth certificate from its (thankfully) usual place, and at the appointed time, we went for a drive. By the time we left the greater Toronto area, she was pretty sure we weren’t going to Subway!
By the time we crossed the border at Lewiston, NY, she had figured out where we were going. We stopped for a little shopping, went to the restaurant, celebrated our life together, and then prepared to drive home. For a change of scenery (as much as that mattered in the dark and the rain), we decided to cross back at Fort Erie.
The traffic was light, and there were no lineups to worry about at the border. Then, when we stopped at the toll plaza to pay our bridge toll, we were greeted by a young woman with a big smile who said, “It’s your lucky day! You can go ahead! Somebody’s EZPass left the gate open for you!”
So we smiled, thanked her, and drove on – toll-free.
Several things entered my mind over this.
First, the young woman at the toll plaza could easily have charged me the $3.00 and pocketed it. But she didn’t; she was honest.
Second, she could have charged me the $3.00 and put it in the till; she had the right to, since I had crossed the bridge and deserved to pay.
And third, isn’t that much like what God has done for us in Jesus Christ? In this life, we deserve to pay for our sins. We deserve nothing short of death. But God, in his great mercy, provided the toll that needed to be paid in order for us to be free. As Paul told the Corinthians, “God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (2 Corinthians 5.21, NLT).
God could have made us pay. But instead, he gave us Jesus.
Do you still think you can make it on your own merit, on your own strength? You can’t. Only Jesus could. Trust him to pay the toll for your sins today!