These glaring words were posted on the sign on the front desk:
PLEASE BRING LICENSE AND REGISTRATION TO PICK UP DECAL.
I noticed the sign, held my head higher, and used the long line to form an infallible argument to sway the opinion of the gatekeeper of the decals—the uninterested secretary at the front desk. After polishing up winsome phrases and patiently listening to the parking restrictions, it was finally my turn. I let her go through the entire process; I gave her my driver’s license, and she asked for the registration.
Then, I attempted to razzle-dazzle her (Richard Gere-Chicago-style complete with sequins and marionettes). I quickly explained that parking at Liberty is very expensive and often inconvenient (a point which I’m sure made me loveable from the beginning), then I proceeded to explain that although I did not have my registration, it would be ridiculous to subject myself to such fees if I did not own the car. In fact, Why would I register a car that is not my own, when others don’t register at all?
Enter moral spin: I may not have a registration, but I’m better than those people who don’t register at all. Blank stare. The Richard Gere tactic was failing, probably because I don’t have dashing salt and pepper hair, and the secretary was not my grandma.
Nevertheless, I sought to put it all together for her. You see, if I were the type of person to try to park a car I didn’t own on campus, I wouldn’t try to register it; I simply would park stickerless—like all of the other students who reject the $300 parking fee. Furthermore, because I am registering the car, it not only sets me apart from those who try to buck the system, it also proves that the car I have belongs to me, because to pay such fees for a car that isn’t my own would be ridiculous.
I smiled at the end and stood there waiting for my decal. She hesitated. I smiled again for good measure and silently repeated something that I had heard from my grandma, people help people that they like. She lifted her weary eyes and simply stated: come back with your registration; Virginia law regulates it. I lowered my jazz hands, snatched my drivers license, and skulked by to my illegally parked car.
I am the exception to every rule. At least, that is how I have lived most of my life. The parking decal situation is one of the more funny (but not rare) instances. Although I could endlessly debate the validity of parking decals, ‘do not enter’ signs, and paper due dates, the real matter lies much deeper in the attitude behind these diatribes; this behavior is indicative of my own sinful nature.
Every time I sin, I am essentially saying that I am the exception to the rule. Despite the fact that God has set order into place for our benefit, in sinning I assert that I know better than He does. I take matters into my own hands. The root of this rebellious sinful pattern is pride. C.J. Mahaney in his book Humility states that “Pride lifts up one’s heart against God and contends for supremacy with Him.” In other words, the sin of pride says, “I am supreme; therefore, my way is best, better than even God’s.”
To address sin this gravely sounds a bit extreme. However, my belief that I can contend for supremacy with God is of ultimate gravity. Sin is completely toxic and ultimately detrimental to the human heart. To ignore that type of problem is suicide. A Puritian (read: devout Christian, not witch burner), named John Owen once stated, “The person who understands the evil in his own heart is the only person who is useful, fruitful, and solid in his beliefs and obedience. Others only delude themselves and thus upset families, churches, and all other relationships.” The person who is most useful to God is not the person who thinks she is the exception to the rule and attempts to control the authority of her own life. Instead, the person seeking to serve God recognizes her own sinful nature and combats those selfish desires by growing in affection towards Christ.
I pray we put to death the sinful nature and seek life through the grace of Christ.