The Back Side of Yesterday: Unmerited Favor

Yesterday was surreal.


She got into my car in tears; said I had to help her. A story about a neighborhood dog running loose—and her dog getting loose… and someone complained… and a citation to appear in court.


A citation she signed agreeing to be there—and the court date she wrote on the calendar.


Feb. 26


But it was “dog court”, and she didn’t want to miss the class she’d just started to keep improving things for her and her family, so she’d called to see if she could reschedule.


Reschedule? She’d already missed the court date; put the wrong date on her calendar. The paper said to appear


Feb. 23


It was no longer just “dog court”. It was failure to appear in court.


Warrant for her arrest. Bail set at $2,500. The judge was signing the papers, and the wheels of justice were about to turn.


This was unchartered waters for both of us, and I knew we needed someone to help us navigate, so I called our local chief of police. He’s fairly new in town, but I met him briefly through my work with Safe Families for Children. If I made that connection, I knew he’d remember me. Was he in the office?




Story spilled. Responsibility taken for her mistake. How to make this right?


Phone calls. Questions. Confirmation.


Warrant for arrest. Bail set…  Clerk’s office says check back after noon to confirm papers are signed then turn yourself in.


Sympathetic. Extremely helpful. Actions—even mistakes—have consequences.


It’s 9AM.


A stop at the bank. Money for a bail bondsman. Is the 10% all they charge or is there an additional fee? Her money. She’s done so well. Not long ago there wasn’t enough let alone an emergency fund.


Something to be thankful for on this day of uncertainty.


It’s hours until noon…


A call to the judge’s office. Any chance he would see us?




To the clerk’s office. Copy of the citation requested, hoping the date was smudged and Feb. 23 looked like Feb. 26.


It wasn’t. The mistake was 100% hers. Silent tears.


So what now?


The papers are signed. Go over to the Sheriff’s office and tell them you want to turn yourself in.


More questions…


If I pay the $250, will I be through?


No, if you pay yourself, it’s the entire $2,500. Otherwise, you need a bondsman to post bail. Either way, they have to book you.


More tears…


My heart broke for her. She’s come so far. In the last nine months… GED, money in the bank, scholarship for school. A bright future on the horizon for a family of five.


Now she’s not going to pass her background check for school. She won’t get another scholarship.


Agonizing tears…


The young woman at the desk studied her—and me. Asked us to take a seat.


Fifteen minutes went by, and then she walked out of the office and sat beside us.


Said she rarely ever does this. She’d talked to the judge. Told him she believes this was an honest mistake. Told him about school.


And then she said,


The judge dropped all charges. They’ve been deleted from the system. There is no record of anything. Your original case is rescheduled for March 3. Be here at 9:00.


Shock. Tears of joy. Hugs of gratitude. A litany of “thank you, Jesus.”


I’m glad you recognize the chance you’ve been given—and the Source. Make the most of it. I wish you the best.


She didn’t deserve her good fortune. It was a once-in-a-lifetime gift, and she would have been foolish to refuse it.


Driving away I couldn’t shake the feeling. It’s hard to put it into words… awe, numb, disbelief—undeserving. Many times in my life I’ve experienced forgiveness or grace that was undeserved, but when I heard that all charges—deserved charges—were dropped and every bit of evidence was gone, vanished, I understood the Cross on a whole new level. When Jesus gave his life for me—and you—his blood washed away every trace of sin. There is no “gotcha” waiting around the corner. His willingness to cover the ugliness of our lives is the most incredible and undeserved gift. There is no blame, no accusing, but an offer to delete all charges from the system. Instead, there is love and a desire for relationship… a gift offered—with hope that it will be accepted


Now God declares us “not guilty” of offending him if we trust in Jesus Christ, who in his kindness freely takes away our sins. (Romans 3:24)


When’s the last time you received something you didn’t deserve?



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  1. What a witness and perfect example of what our Lord did for us.

  2. Amen…been there many times and seen His hand move. We recounted some of that today in fact. My husband just got back from Nashville and recounted again God’s hand of favor. Unmerited favor!

  3. Jody Benge says:

    Thank you God!

  4. Jody Benge says:

    God is good, When we least expect it, grace comes our way. I was nearly in tears reading about this young woman’s situation. Anyone could have made an honest mistake. I know there are rules, but to carry something from Dog court to such a degree makes no sense to me. Then person’s with much bigger charges often go free. Only God knows the why. I am sending thankful prayers to our savior at this very moment!