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Can $84 beat the Holy Spirit?

(Originally published in Eternity in 2009/10)

I don’t think anyone like parking police. We love the feeling of beating them.

And perhaps with good reason.

As I was leaving work the other day, I noticed the parking police marking the cars around me. I thought this might create the opportunity to beat the police. Whoever parked there after me wouldn’t get marked and could stay there for the rest of the day. I rang my colleague, who was still at work, to let him know his good fortune. He hurried down and parked in my spot.

However, when the parking police returned, the fined him $84 for staying more than an hour. They’d cheated: the ticket indicated that the infringing hour had started before my phone call.

This sort of behaviour seems to justify our ongoing dislike of parking police: it fuels our suspicion that it really is all about revenue-raising.

But this dislike and anger – even when justified – obscure the good that parking police do.

Consider this, If I find a park, I take it. I check after an hour, and if the tyres aren’t marked, I stay. If I happen upon an all-day parking spot, I snap it up. And after a few hours – as regenerate as I am, as transformed by the Holy Spirit, as redeemed by the blood of Christ – I don’t start thinking about whether it might be kind to give someone else a turn. My car stays put.

But the sight of chalk or a uniform will succeed where inner motivation failed. The parking police are there to help me share.

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