It was bright and sunny Sunday morning. The birds were singing, the sun was bright, the kids were excited, and we were running late. The Hubs had to be in Greenville early to assist with preparations for a guest speaker, and we hoped I’d be able to arrive with the kids in order to attend the speaker’s talk before church.

We normally go to church in Washington… so the half hour distance, plus not having HH’s assistance in getting the kids ready, plus needing to go extra early, plus the Belle wanting a wee nap… basically it all combined to mean that I was so far from the possibility of getting there on time. I think I counted that after getting everyone in the car, I went back into the house approximately six times to grab one more thing before the van actually reversed out of the driveway.

I started the trek to Greenville, noisy little people in the back, me flustered at the thought of now being exceptionally late, and I prayed that the Lord would somehow help us make it on time. Yes, friends, I kind of treated God like a magic genie and I hoped that if I rubbed His lamp, a thirty minute journey would become a fifteen minute journey, and then the time-space continuum could get back to normal.


I intended to do my part by driving as quickly as seemed reasonably possible.

Shortly after that prayer, I heard a reply from the Lord. This was especially significant because I hadn’t been a very good listener lately — if I was asking and He was answering, I probably didn’t hear it. But this was the whisper:

You need to slow down. Let it go. This isn’t a big deal.

It was something like that — you know how you hear something with your heart and it’s not necessarily a message with words, but still something you just understand? I sensed this simple encouragement from the Lord to relax, to trust that this “issue” was very small in the grand scheme of things, that it was all going to be okay.

I agreed. You’re right, Lord, I need to slow down. I purposefully slowed down the bustling mini-van and continued the journey.

I sat not-so-patiently as the next two stop lights I encountered were red and took FOREVAHEVAH. I was anxious to get scooting again, and sped up again — not to the slowed-down pace I’d been directed to by the Lord, but to the previous pace — the as quick as reasonably possible one.

I doubt they’ll be handing out any medals in heaven for half-obedience.

Not long after, flashing blue lights were behind me, and I hadn’t even made it out of Washington yet.

It turns out, the stretch of road I was driving on was a 35 mph zone, but I thought it was a 45. To my credit, there were no speed limits signs posted from the point where I turned onto the road to the point where I was pulled over, and the first sign you see, shortly after the spot where I was pulled over, is a 50. Since I was going as fast as reasonably possible — faster than 45, I was going rightmuchfasterthanreasonableina35milesperhourzone.

Needless to say, I was 1) disappointed to get a speeding ticket and 2) SO disappointed that it could have been avoided if I had just done that one little thing I encourage my kids to do all the time: listen and obey.


When you do something stupid like that, and you realize that you specifically, deliberately (or perhaps absentmindedly) disobeyed the Lord (the way I chose not to relax and slow down) I imagine it is completely natural for you to feel a couple of different things. One is totally frustrated and angry with yourself. Another is really sorry and disappointed at yourself. The third is just totally ashamed of yourself.

The frustration and anger tend to subside. Deep breaths. The sorrow over the mistake will hopefully lead you, like it led me, to ask for forgiveness. But there is this funny thing about shame. Shame is like a stinky wet blanket, laid thick and heavy over your soul.

The person who feels ashamed usually wants to hide. Regret and frustration and sorrow are healthy parts of the process of dealing with something you’ve done. But shame often turns the nail on its head and tries to point instead at the problem being with who you are.

I basically dealt with my own anger and frustration about the situation. I asked the Lord to forgive me for blatantly continuing on my own course of action, instead of truly listening and responding to the gentle whisper He was kind enough to give me.

But then, in relational terms, the situation was a big knock. It hurt my pride. It made me feel foolish. It bummed me out because in the States speeding tickets can negatively affect your car insurance premiums, and with the Hubs being a “legal immigrant alien” (or some similarly strange term) he has no domestic driving record, and we’ve had to be creative to avoid the super-high insurance premiums that we would have to pay to insure him to drive here. (Hence the usefulness of the Hubs driving a motorcycle.)

Godly sorrow leads to repentance and brings with it hope, and a renewed sense of thankfulness for the forgiveness that Jesus paid for. In the end, it reminds us that, while we are fallen and broken, God sees us as worthy — worthy enough that He’d send His Son to take the punishment we deserve.

Worldly sorrow, and the shame that goes with it, whispers a different message. It says: you are a mess and you’re just not really worth it. You think this about yourself but the truth is that.

I walked around for a while with my tail between my legs. Even though I’d asked for forgiveness and was confident I was forgiven, there was still this uncomfortable discontent in my heart.

I’ve recently been working my way through Beth Moore’s book, When Godly People Do Ungodly Things. It has been so enlightening, such a great encouragement, and it has given me so much food for thought about my faith I feel like I’m overindulging at an all-you-can-eat-buffet. In one section, she is discussing the fact that our enemy feels no remorse for kicking us when we’re down. She comments:

“Somehow we secretly hope the devil, as low as he is, surely has enough scruples to draw the line where the fight would be totally unfair. Satan has no scruples!”

Beth Moore, “When Godly People Do Ungodly Things

It feels ridiculous to admit that I’d like to assume that there are at least a few things that are too low even for the enemy of our souls. But truly — he is as low as it gets!

So after dealing with just being bummed about my disobedience, my lousy decision-making and the consequences, you’d think that was enough to deal with — but no! Satan has no scruples — and he is sure to try to kick you while you’re down!

These whispers quietly creep in, and you feel as if they’re your own thoughts:

Man. You’ve been complaining about cars speeding through your neighborhood. You should totally be ashamed, hypocrite.

Gosh. You really thought you were a lot further along in your walk with the Lord than to go and do something stupid like this. 

Cue the flustered embarrassment. Cue the I’m-so-disappointed-I-want-to-run-and-hide feelings on the inside. Cue the resulting ‘uneasiness’ that I just couldn’t put my finger on for a while.

Can I tell you the best thing to do in a situation like this? If you don’t already think I’m crazy, you might think so now.

If there’s any truth in the words the enemy is whispering, agree with them.

In Matthew 5, Jesus said “Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.” {v. 25}

Here’s what this looks like in practice.

“You’re right devil. It is very hypocritical for me to complain about all the people who have been speeding through my neighborhood, and then to think I’m a special case and I ought to be able to get away with it. But you know what else is true? Every mistake I’ve ever made or ever will make is nailed to the cross. I am sometimes a hypocrite, but I am always forgiven because of JesusThe Bible says ‘Those who look to Him are radiant. Their faces are never covered with shame.’ {Ps. 34:5} so I don’t have to be ashamed of the mistakes I’ve made — when Jesus said ‘It is finished” He meant this, too!!”

And in response to the suggestion that this is an indication that I still belong in Children’s Church:

“You’re right that I did a stupid thing, devil. I should’ve listened when the Lord told me to slow down. But even Paul the Apostle said, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” {Phil 3:12} If the Apostle who was responsible for bringing the Gospel to the gentiles and was imprisoned for his faith said he didn’t have it right, there is still plenty of hope for me. I will only attain perfection when Jesus returns and makes all things new — but the Lord has brought me this far, and I most certainly intend to keep on climbing!”

The difficult thing about the whispers of our unscrupulous enemy is that they are often a mix of fiction and non-fiction. They contain just enough truth to disguise the lies that lie underneath: the whispers that question God’s goodness, or question our inheritance in Him.

Friends, are you ever discouraged that you’re just not good enough? Not smart enough? Not perfect enough in one way or another?

We can deeply embrace the truth that we all totally fall short of the incredible, impeccable example of Jesus — and since that’s the gold standard, we should not try to hold ourselves to any other standard. Because this is the life-giving truth: God knew from the beginning we’d never measure up. But He also — in some beautifully marvelous mystery — decided that we were absolutely worth it anyway.

The next time some worthless whisper comes creeping past your ear? Be quick to agree that while you may not measure up, God saw you as worthy enough to send His Son to planet Earth for you. And you really can’t get more valuable that.