There are many times when I am reminded of God's mercy, and how much he looks after me.
One specific time I can think of was last fall, when several of my friends decided to get up early on a Saturday morning and head to Helen, Ga., for Oktoberfest.
I was really looking forward to Oktoberfest. In college, when I was living in Vienna, Austria to study music, I narrowly missed out on an opportunity to go to the real Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, because I had a concert that weekend. The girl I was dating at the time went ahead of me and brought me back a commemorative T-shirt, but I always wanted to know what that experience was like for my own knowledge.
I didn't expect Oktoberfest in Helen to be as wild and crazy as Oktoberfest in Munich, but I was just as excited and decided to dress the part. As a part of my outfit, I wore a brown, Guinness stout T-shirt, designed to look like a whiskey barrel, with a matching brown, Guinness stout hat, complete with a built-in bottle opener.
We left early from Atlanta and had several fun diversions along the way, stopping at the Original Pancake House in Alpharetta for breakfast, naming a newborn Cabbage Patch doll at the BabyLand General Hospital in Cleveland, Ga., and sampling wines at the Habersham Winery outside of Helen.
By the time we had arrived at Oktoberfest, we had already packed in a full day of activities.
After grabbing a beer stein and touring Helen's picturesque Bavarian village for a few hours, it was time to go home. My friend, who was a good sport and decided to be the designated driver, made sure that everybody was nice and sober before heading back to their respective locales. Granted, that took a little while, so by the time I left my friend's house and headed home, it was nearly 3 a.m., the next day.
As I drove late at night, I came to a point in the road where my lane was ending and I needed to get over. The person in the lane next to me decided to step on the gas and go faster, instead of being a gentleman and letting me in. A spilt decision had to be made, so I decided to cut out in front of the person, which resulted in a few angry honks. The honks, however, alerted two nearby police officers who decided to pull me over.
The next set of events is a perfect example of why I believe God has a sense of humor. It's 3 a.m., I am being pulled over by two policemen, and I am wearing a Guinness T-shirt, a Guinness hat with a bottle opener in the lid, with an empty, commemorative German beer stein in my front passenger seat.
As I sat there, waiting for the officers to approach my vehicle, I tried to think of a more ironic or troubling scenario, but nothing came to mind. Although I was very sober, everything I wore screamed, "officer, take me to jail."
While the conversation with the police officer wasn't pleasant, it ultimately ended with them sending me on my way with a warning to drive more carefully, which I did, all the while realizing things could have been much worse.
When I had traveled somewhat of a distance from where I was pulled over, I thanked God for having mercy on me and forgiving my poor judgment in evening wear.
The lesson I learned from that evening (aside from don't get pulled over while wearing beer paraphernalia and sitting next to a beer stein), was that good can go to bad in a split second. Many times, the only thing separating those split seconds is God's mercy and intervention. I really thank Him for looking out for me that day.
Joel Hall covers government and politics for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.