Everybody Pays Tolls

for the week of December 4, 2000
by Rubel Shelly

Some of us have a hard time with accountability and responsibility. He prefers to jump gates, break lines, and drive too fast. She is prone to think she is an exception to the rules and can get away with defying them. Then comes the moment of rude awakening. Reality breaks in. The piper has to be paid. Take the strange anecdote of the Florida tollbooth cheat as a case in point.

Wesley Ridgwell saw no need to pay the paltry tolls along the Florida highways. So he zipped through 705 tollbooths between August 1999 and June of this year without paying. When the 23-year-old man was first tracked down, he denied everything. "I'm such a good person," he protested. "People who know me just can't believe this is happening."

He claimed that someone had stolen one of his two "JST CRZY" vanity license plates and put it on a car that looked like his. But his story fell apart when a police officer pulled over a car with plate "JST CRZY" for not paying a toll. And guess who was behind the wheel? You're ahead of me.

Ridgwell has a long history of traffic problems. A dozen convictions ranging from speeding to drunken driving are on his record. This time the court suspended his license for three months and fined him $15,000. Ouch! A couple of quarters here and there would have been far more bearable. "I apologize," he said. "I do understand that everyone should have to pay the tolls."

What taught you that lesson? Did you fudge your credentials and get into a job beyond your training and skills? Have you tried to make relationships work by taking without giving? What about professions of faith without a changed life?

Adam and Eve thought they could eat the forbidden fruit without paying the toll. David deemed himself a powerful enough man to take another man's wife and avoid the toll usually paid. Judas turned his back on Jesus and gave no thought to the toll he would have to pay for his choice.

The Bible reminds us about accountability and toll-paying. "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked," wrote Paul. "A man reaps what he sows" (Galatians 6:7). From the dues we are expected to pay at toll booths to the moral consequences of our adult actions, life makes its demands.

Anyone who thinks he can escape life's toll booths really is "JST CRZY."



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