Thoughts after getting a speeding ticket…

Yesterday I was on my way to church, listening to a sermon on my Iphone, when I saw the repetitive flashing of a California Highway Patrol car in my rearview mirror. Yep, there was no mistaking it, he was after me. Ugh. My heart sank. How fast was I going?

It has been 12 years since the last, and only other, time I have been pulled over and I ended up with just a warning that time. Maybe I would only get a warning again. What would I say though?

As the cop made his way up to the passenger side of my car (I was pulled over on a very busy part of the freeway) I found myself blushing and tongue-tied and trying not to make any sudden movements that could be interpreted as reaching for a gun (yes, that thought entered my head and NO I don’t own a gun nor do I ever intend to). Well, I thought, there will be no groveling. That’s just not my style. I would be honest and take the ticket. After all, I was in the wrong if I had been speeding.

With the cop tentatively crouching at my window we went through the uncomfortable dance of question and answer. Can I get your license, registration and insurance? Is this your correct address on your license? Do you know how fast you were going? Is there any particular reason you were going that fast?

I scrambled and found the things he asked for and I had a bit of a hesitation at the last question. This was my chance to stretch the truth. I could play the “I’m going to church to lead worship,” card. But no, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I wouldn’t want my bad driving behavior to reflect badly on my church.

A few minutes later, after making sure I wasn’t a convicted felon or serial speeder/ticket collector, the cop returned to the car and sent me on my way with a golden ticket. No not a fun Willy Wonka golden ticket, but the see you in traffic court/pay a fine for speeding kind of golden ticket.

With an ache in my chest I merged back onto the freeway and then spent the rest of the drive replaying “what I said” VS. “what I should have said.” The number one thing repeated in this one sided pretend conversation, though, was “I am on my way to church to lead worship.” I kept thinking, what in the world does that mean? Lead worship. Those two words now feel like rocks on my tongue. How could something that sounded so normal now sound so foreign? Take a moment and imagine if you’ve never stepped foot inside a church. Then imagine hearing that sentence. It just doesn’t translate. Outside of the church, that phrase does not exist.

So I am going to ponder this for a day or so and then finish this blog. In the meantime I want you to tell me your thoughts. How would you explain to a non-christian or someone who doesn’t attend a church or maybe even someone who does attend a church but is still confused:

“What is musical worship that is found in a church?”

Sit down and imagine yourself talking to the barista at Starbucks, or the cashier at your grocery store, or the cop that just pulled you over who has no clue what you are talking about and tell me what you would tell them…

Feel free to repost/retweet/ask all your friends this question so that we can get a large number of answers. I will post my thoughts in a few days. Till then, get to commenting your thoughts here!

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About sarah macintosh

I am Sarah MacIntosh, formerly the lead singer for a band called Chasing Furies. I am a writer. Some writing has melody some doesn't. Some writing is for myself and some is for others. The songs tend to bubble up inside for quite some time and eventually burst out later with or without a guitar in my hand. Recently there have been towering highs and plummeting lows in my life all which have been carefully guarded by my Savior, Jesus. It is these things that have been written about on scraps of paper, tattered journals, and my faithful mac laptop. These words jotted down have swirled around in my head until they have finally come out of my mouth in melody. Melody and words have joined together and are now being carefully placed and suspended in time on tracks that will eventually be a cd. I will crack the door so that you can see what has been written... here and there...in a plane...in a hotel... View all posts by sarah macintosh

7 responses to “Thoughts after getting a speeding ticket…

  • Dyan

    What would Scarlet have said?? 🙂
    I agree with the comment that we’re imperfect and speeding is an honest mistake.
    The officer wasn’t necessarily in the dark in regards to worshipping God. So if he was. It’s okay to tell him where you were headed. The gospel is that we’re all sinners needing the Savior. You know the Savior and you were on your way to lead worship.
    It doesn’t serve any purpose to the lost to pretend that we’re perfect whether we’re Christians who professes Christ, or if we’re in the ministry as leaders. If we can admit our failures and that we still are devoted to Him, needing His continued strength to become more the people we are called to be, seeking and continually being washed and forgiven by our Savior Jesus, then we show to the lost the door that is open to them.

    You respectfully accepted the ticket. It doesn’t reflect poorly on the church that you were speeding. We all do. You got caught that day. I hope you had it excused.

    Your blogs are sweet as are your songs of worship. Thank you Sarah.

    (BTW: I hope Scarlett has her own guitar. Did you and Jonny ever YouTube the day that she walked onto the stage while you both were performing? She looked like she was looking around for HER guitar to join in! SO CUTE!! Priceless.)

  • carolyn rennie

    Well said/written!!! I tell people that Sarah MacIntosh has a heart for the Lord/shares/writes/sings from deep in her heart at Horizon Church in San Diego! She is making CDs alot, and she is the lead singer/person for the Worship/praise at the Church, and missed terribly whenever she is on tour!!!

  • Rachel

    I loved reading all of these beautiful responses. I think each one is wonderful. Taking from everything I’ve read, I thought perhaps when I need to have a quick answer ready I can simply say that we love Jesus and so we sing songs to him to show him how much we love him. Short and simple but gets to the heart of it. I’m glad you asked this question!

  • Evan

    Great thought, Sarah.

    Same kind of thing happened to me just last night. Sandy and I know a lot of the staff at our local gym from back in the youth group days. A girl behind the desk asked me if I was working on a new CD. Another employee, this bald guy, overheard her and asked me what I do.

    Speaking from experience, it’s much easier to tell an unbeliever that I’m a pastor than that I’m a worship leader.

    When I told people I was a youth pastor I’d get responses like, “What a great way to influence lives for good,” and “Yeah, kids need positive mentors now more than ever.”

    So I told the bald guy at the gym that I was a worship leader both at my home church and abroad and that I have a passion to write songs for the church to sing to the Creator. His reply: “Oh cool. It’s cool to be doing what you’re passionate about.” Awkward. I tried to tell him a little bit more about worship leader training and how cool the conferences can be. Do you know that face someone gets when you’re talking but their attention has apparently slipped away and settled upon some other, more interesting issue? He had that face.

    The word “mystical” is defined as having a spiritual meaning or reality that is neither apparent to the senses nor obvious to the intelligence

    The worship leader’s occupation is so directly immersed in that which is mystical. More so I think than probably any other typical “church job”.

    I wonder if there is a massive, untapped approach to sacred worship and church music that could help bridge the gap between materialists and mystics. I’m not talking about wimpy stuff like kicking off Sunday worship with a Killers song or bringing in a “secular” artist to a church event. I’m thinking bigger and more creative and more redemptive than that.

    How cool would it be if both the cop and the bald guy caught even a small glimpse of the terribly beautiful (beautifully terrible?) reality of human engagement with God when we simply say that we are Worship Leaders? What would that world look like from street level?

  • Lo

    I would have just told him if he asked. I think a lot of Christians try to put on a perfect face for people outside the church in order not to be a ‘bad witness.’ I used to be the same way; after people at work/school knew I was a Christian I would put myself under so much anxiety trying to always be happy and cheerful and smiling, and that just isn’t real life. I’m getting better at just being myself and honest with people about my struggles and failures while still keeping a personal standard of holiness and integrity. And your character does show after you’ve been around people for a while through ups and downs and in various situations.
    Speeding is an honest mistake, and I’m sure you were polite and obliging to the officer, as well as taking responsibility for your actions. That’s probably better than most situations he encounters and I’m sure he wouldn’t have thought worse of Christianity had you told him you were going to church to lead worship. 😛

  • Matthew Brink

    agreed, i would not have told him either, though i would have thought of it burning in the mind all the way to church. wow. what a humbling experience. been there done that. you are better than me here. but your recounting of it resonates heavily with me.
    as far as the question, i guess my answer would probably involve something along the lines that i’ve learned that we are made to worship, to be in awe, and God is the one who made us that way. so it’s not just as i stare out over the grand canyon or see waves surging or stare into a starry night sky, but it’s the One who spoke all those into being, that we are made to look up to and truly be in awe. and then in a group setting, someone’s got to lead it, and as piper says, make Jesus look really great.

  • Sarah

    As always, so thought provoking. I have been thinking a lot lately about the way Christian vocabulary has so seeped into my everyday language that it is difficult for me to separate what I understand because of my Christian culture, and what an ordinary, English-speaking friend who isn’t well-versed in biblical lingo might understand.

    So I think I would probably have awkwardly said it this way:

    I’m on my way to church. I am one of the people who sings on stage.

    I wish I would be coherent enough to say it (sincerely and without preachiness) more this way:

    I am on my way to a service where we worship Jesus Christ. I believe that He is the center of all things, and one of the ways we worship Him is through song….and I am one of the musicians who leads those songs.

    But even that, as I re-read it, seems imperfect and stilted. So I’m eager to see what others write.

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