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The Ticket (Almost)
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Anyone who has more than a passing acquaintance with me knows I have a tendency to drive fast and collect souvenirs from law enforcement personnel in whatever jurisdiction I happen to find myself. Namely, I have a lead foot. My tickets usually find me due to my own tendency to engage my mind in musical matters and lose myself in the experience. I normally discover I am going too fast when those familiar flashing lights jolt me from my reveries and dump me unceremoniously into the “here and now.” Is that clear as mud? I thought so. Here is a recap: I daydream. I speed. I get caught. I pay fines. That’s it. Herein lies my tale…

I was recently booked on a latenight recording session that started at 9 p.m., and finished at roughly 1 a.m. The client, a gentleman from Seattle who likes to record in Nashville, had given me a copy of some previous sessions. So on the night in question, your honor, I was listening to the CDs and headed out on I40 toward the house when I was startled to see those familiar twinkling lights in my rearview mirror. Knowing the drill from previous encounters, I made my way to the shoulder and pulled out my license to await the policeman. The whole way over to the side of the road I was wondering what the problem could be because I had checked my speed and knew that I was well below the posted limit.

The encounter went something like this:

COP: Sir, do you know why I pulled you over?

Me: No, sir.

COP: You were doing between 50 and 55 in a 70 mph zone.

Me: (silently to myself) What?! That’s a switch.

COP: Have you been drinking?

Me: No, sir.

COP: Are you sure?

Me: (chuckling) Yes, sir, not a drop.

COP: Anytime we see someone driving this slowly, at this time of night, we assume they are drunk and trying to appear sober.

Me: I see. Well, I just finished working and was heading to the house. I was listening to a little music and taking it easy.

At this point in our interview, the offi cer, who had been standing just behind the doorpost of my car, looked at my license and then shined his light in my face.

COP: Hey, you’re Stephen Hill!

Me: Yes, sir, that’s me.

COP: Man! I don’t believe this. My wife and I watch you all the time on the Homecoming series. You know, I used to sing in some groups myself. I sang with (he gave me the name of several local quartets). I can’t believe I’m standing here talking to you. My wife is not going to believe this.

Me: (once again silently to self) I can’t believe this either….

COP: Say, would you pray for my wife and me? We need some prayer these days.

Me: Sure, let’s do it.

So, we prayed there on the side of the interstate with cars whizzing by at 70 miles per hour. When we finished, this man had the biggest smile on his face.

The reason I prayed with him then and there was because one time I had asked Vestal Goodman for prayer and she just stopped dead in her tracks and went after it. After she prayed with me, I asked her why she had been so immediate, and she told me this: “Honey, when somebody asks you for prayer, they normally need it right then, not next week sometime.” That stuck with me. So, there we were, this policeman and myself, on the side of the road, talking to the Lord. I couldn’t help but thank God for the encounter and for sending this moment my way.

I have been stopped a lot over the years, but this one goes in the books as the only time I have ever been stopped for going too slow. I will treasure this one forever. If I had not been going so slowly, if I had not been a Homecoming Friend, if I had not been paying attention after we stopped, none of this could have happened. Thank God and Gaither. This has nothing to do with Christmas, but what a gift…