On April 1, 1974, for the first time in the history of the United States, a national speed limit was put into effect. The purpose was to conserve gasoline during the energy crisis. At first, having to drive no faster than 55 miles per hour seemed like an April Fool’s joke, but it wasn’t.

For motorists accustomed to traveling at 65 or even 70 mph, the new speed limit was excruciatingly slow. Before long, however, drivers discovered that one could hedge a bit. Vehicles traveling at 60 mph were seldom stopped by the highway patrol. Now, a mile a minute was once again attainable. The general public was not happy, but they adjusted.

In order to squelch the trend of pushing the envelope, authorities in Iowa attached to existing speed limit signs auxiliary notices declaring, “No Grace.” The intent of the addendum was to inform motorists that 55 meant 55, not 60 or anything else. If someone was clocked doing one mile per hour over, they would be subject to a ticket. Or if a driver was given a citation for speeding at 65 mph, the first five mph would be counted against him/her, not like other states which did not charge for the miles per hour from 55 to 60.

Iowa meant business. No grace!

A few years ago when I worked for Wherry Mortuary, Todd, the young-looking funeral director, advised me not to worry too much about speed limits because hearses received a “free pass.” I later asked a state trooper about that, and he said that he had never given a hearse a ticket because he had never seen a hearse going above the speed limit. Obviously, he and Todd had never met in the line of duty.

A few months after sharing with me his wisdom regarding funeral coaches and speed limits, Todd was driving the hearse back from a burial in central Iowa when he was stopped and ticketed by a sheriff for going one mile per hour over the limit. Todd was beyond upset, mostly because his wisdom, such as it was, proved to be fallible. I suggested that that sheriff had stopped him because he was curious as to why a sixteen-year-old was driving a hearse. Todd was not amused.

Even though those auxiliary signs had been removed several years before, at least one law enforcement officer had not received the memo. Apparently, Iowa is not a state of grace.

Todd’s unhappy experience in Iowa begs the question, “What would a world without grace be like?” There would be no forgiveness, no mercy, no random acts of kindness, no resurrection, no salvation (think about Ephesians 2:8 – For by grace you have been saved through faith.) Peace and joy would be in short supply.

But there is Good News. We don’t have to live in a world without grace. On the other hand, it is possible to live in a world full of grace. That world is available to us through faith in Jesus Christ. This grace-filled world is called, “The Kingdom of God.” Believers who have been sanctified by living in faith and faithfulness spend much of their time receiving and dispensing grace. It is grace which enables us to live in God’s kingdom now and in the life to come.

Live in grace.

Drive with care.

Ken Tubbesing