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Toll Booth Confessions

Recently, Sue and I attended a family reunion in the thriving community of Holt’s Summit, Missouri. From Texas, we traveled through the Ouachita and Ozark National forests of Arkansas, and past the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. So beautiful, despite fog and thunderstorms.

After a wonderful reunion with cherished Carter family members, we went farther north to Hiawatha, Kansas, to visit the Carter family cemetery. We arrived from the southeast just as the cold front was arriving from the northwest. The temperature dropped from 83 to 53 in minutes -- less than perfect weather to visit a windy cemetery.

Since the favored motel was closed for remodeling, we drove into Topeka with the cold front on our rear bumper. Thankfully, we found a motel before the storm moved in.

The next morning, fueled by McDonalds, we jumped on the Kansas Turnpike and headed toward Oklahoma. The automated toll machine gave me a cardboard entry ticket to be used when we exited later. What happened next is priceless.

We took a break using the Wichita exit. At the automated toll booth, I braved the chilling rain and wind and tried to insert the ticket into the machine. For some reason, I could not force it into the slot. Thinking that the machine was broken, I backed out of that lane to go through the other exit booth.

However, the ticket did not fit into that slot either. By now, cars were lined up behind me, and that’s when I noticed that the restraining arm was up! So, I exited without any alarms sounding. All was well…..except I had not paid the toll. My conscience began to churn with guilt. Bible verses came to mind, and one ended with horrible judgment in the lake “that burneth with fire and brimstone.” (Revelation 21:8)

After the break, we got back on the turnpike while checking the rearview mirror for the Kansas highway patrol. My prayers of repentance were offered to God, hoping to not miss Heaven over an unpaid $8 turnpike toll. As we pulled into the Southern Terminal, it was time to confess and pay up.

At the toll booth, a most gracious lady greeted me with a cheerful “hello.” I waved my debit card at her and became a penitent at her confessional box. She said, “Sir, you don’t owe anything. All of the tolls have been charged to your Texas EZ tag. You are free to go.”

Free to go? My tolls have been paid? Hallelujah! There’s a sermon in this story and I’ll find it later. Right now, I am free to go without guilt and shame! (Galatians 5:1)


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