The Gates of Eternity at the DMV

(As published at

I recently had the delightful privilege of spending a beautiful summer day sitting at the local DMV office. Hours of endless lines. Lots of people packed into a building three sizes too small. Hard, impersonal stares from government workers who constantly question whether their paycheck is worth the time they spend dealing with the number of people who clearly do not possess the competence to operate a toaster, much less a motorized vehicle.

But let’s face it, part of adulting means that certain obligations get accomplished whether they are pleasant or not. One such task was transferring my driver’s license to a federally approved one in my new home state of North Carolina. That task required me to go to the DMV.

“I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” Philippians 4:11b

Channeling all my spiritual maturity, I decided to make the best of my DMV chore. I researched what documentation I needed to bring along. I packed two books to adequately fill the long wait. I stashed a snack in my bag since I would probably miss lunch.

I. Was. Ready.

One hour ticked by. I made it from the front door to the check-in desk.

Two hours passed. I found a vacant spot on the tile floor to park my rear end against the wall.

Three hours passed. I had scored a plastic chair, finished one book, and listened to a woman loudly complain that it isn’t fair that the only people who are willing to be her friends are people paid to hurt her.

Four hours passed. I started my second book, ate my snack, and YES – THAT’S MY NUMBER BEING CALLED!

I would have skipped to the counter, but my middle-aged joints had substantially locked up on me after three hours of uncomfortable seating. Still, the finish line was in sight!

Everything was going very well until…

“Now I need your marriage certificate,” the DMV lady said.

My stomach bottomed out on the floor. What? That wasn’t mentioned on the website.

“You have a name change from your birth certificate to your social security card,” the DMV lady patiently explained. “We need to see the paper trail of your name change.”

I’m fuming. I have spent four never-to-be-gotten-again hours of my precious life waiting to accomplish a seemingly simple task of getting my federally approved driver’s license. I pull up the DMV website on my phone to helpfully show the lady behind the desk that there is no mention of bringing a marriage certificate.

The DMV lady is now beginning to lose her patience with me and re-states that she is not authorized to issue a federally approved license without proper documentation. She tries to pacify the pulsating vein on my forehead by stating that I can always get the basic license now and come back to get the soon-to-be-required federal license another day.

Conceding defeat, I walk out to my car muttering all manner of unkind words while pocketing the limited shelf-life driver’s license. Apparently I will have a second date with the DMV.

As frustrating as that experience was, I take a small (very, very small) measure of comfort in that I was offered a second chance. Life doesn’t always offer us second chances to get something right. Eternity certainly doesn’t.

Matthew 25 records a series of stories Jesus used to teach what the transition to eternity will be like. The first is a story of 10 young ladies who are waiting for the groom to arrive at a party. Five ladies are prepared. Five are less so. The second story follows three servants who are given various amounts of money to invest for their master. Two of the servants invest shrewdly, but one buries his money in a hole. The final story is about a group of good people assembled before the judgment throne at the end of days. Some are welcomed while others are sent away.

In each story, excuses are made to the groom/master/Lord by the various characters.

“’Lord, lord, open to us,’” the young ladies plead at the front door after realizing they were horribly unprepared. (Matt. 25:11)

“’Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground,’” the servant admits while handing a dirt-crusted coin back to his boss. (Matt. 25:24-25)

“”Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’” the good people whine when they are dismissed.

That’s the clincher. It doesn’t matter what good intentions we have. It doesn’t matter that we weren’t well-informed. It doesn’t matter if we think Heaven’s road is unfair or too strict.

Jesus states in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

The way to Heaven is through Christ. Not around him. Not agreeing with his social agenda. Not with Jesus as your co-pilot. The one path to Heaven is walking through the sin-covering, blood-crusted path to follow our Savior wherever he chooses to lead us.

Put Christ first. There are no second chances to eternity.

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