On Friday, the kiddos and I packed up some stuff and drove the 300 some miles to visit my Mom. It was quite the undertaking! I had to do it all by my lonesome, as hubby had left for work early for a meeting. I lost my keys at some point during the packing of our van, and spent an hour searching for them (I may have broke down in tears at one point.)
When we finally pulled out of the driveway Friday afternoon, my nerves were fried. It’s no easy feat packing four days of clothes and essentials for five people while keeping an 8, 6 and 3 year old adequately supervised during the endeavor.
My low fuel light popped on as I pulled onto the highway. No biggie, I thought. I’ll just get gas in the next town, 20 miles away. I have enough gas to make it there.
20 miles later, as I turned into the gas station, I reached for the fuel tank key. And it wasn’t there.
Here I am, already frazzled, transporting a van-load of kids (and a puppy), and I’m about to run out of gas, with no way to refuel. Without enough gas left to even make it back home!
A string of swears fell out of my mouth. Which I apologized to my kids for (now you know why I’m the Ungodly Woman…).
And I prayed. Prayed hard.
I asked God to do me this one solid (even though I’m frequently asking for just “one” of these… ), to somehow help me get gas in my van so I can continue on my course.
Not thinking that my request for a magical loosening of my locked fuel cap was really going to happen, I got out and checked it anyway.
I found the cap just sitting there on top on the fuel port. It wasn’t even screwed on.
Now, this is miraculous, whether you want to believe it or not. I know better. I know that for 8 years, whenever myself or my hubby have refueled, we habitually screw on the cap tightly to engage the locking mechanism, then turn it counter clockwise until we hear the telltale clicking. It’s a deeply engrained habit. In 8 years, I’ve yet to find the cap unlocked, let alone, not screwed onto the opening.
I say a prayer of thanksgiving, gas up, and get back on the road.
This is pretty much how it works between God and me. I suck at life, feel overwhelmed by the fact that I suck at my life, and God does something out of the blue, just for me, to help me out of a predicament I’ve clearly gotten my own self into.
I don’t know the why (ok, I do. God is good, even when we aren’t).
I have not earned my answered prayer, or affected my Divine mini-rescues, by my devout and holy life. The human idea of holiness just doesn’t work for me. God knows this. So, instead of holiness, I just try to keep it real with Him, and I let Him take care of the holiness part.
When I talk about anything relating to Grace, it’s only because I’ve experienced so much of it. My own life reflects what I’ve read in Scripture (and stands in opposition to a lot of what other human beings preach concerning it).
I don’t piece this stuff together on my own, it comes together through witnessing this Divine interplay that presents in myriad ways in my daily life. Like the mysterious payment for my cat’s surgery last Spring after I challenged God in my grief (I definitely didn’t earn that one by my alignment with the Spirit… Phew!).
Here I am, this messy, unruly, unholy human being, just trying to make sense of God amidst the trials of life, and this is where I find Grace abounds. Which is why, it’s called Grace–unmerited favor.
I am not the portrait of ‘good Christian’ that pops into most people’s minds. I’m so far from that, it would make you laugh. It makes me laugh to think about it.
And yet, if by ‘good Christian’ you mean someone that clings to Christ with white knuckled hands, is fully aware of how much they continually fall short, and strives with every fiber of their being to love their neighbor as their self anyway? If that’s your definition of ‘good Christian’, then maybe I’d qualify… But only because I’m sustained by this radical Grace of God.
“Even before a word is on my tongue,
O Lord, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain it.
Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.”
Psalm 139:4-12 (NRSV, boldface mine)