Our car is broken again. We borrowed
my parents’ second car on Saturday so we could go shopping for the
new car we didn’t want to buy when we spent another $100 or so a
couple of weeks ago on our current car (which is still broken,
remember). My husband says our vehicle limps. I chuckle and roll my
eyes. ‘Limps’ is an understatement.
take Audrey out for some special time with Mom before church –
grocery shopping. We head out to our borrowed car and it refuses to
fuming already. I turn the key again, nothing. And again, nothing.
she whispers from the back seat, familiar with this dilemma of broken
choke back tears as I desperately try one last time. I march inside
and announce it to my husband like it’s his fault:
we have TWO cars in our driveway and NEITHER work?!”
indignant, so frustrated I might pop.
bananas, “Hmm… try letting it roll a bit, then try again. Put it in Neutral.”
following behind me. I try everything and nothing works. I slam doors and
yell at my husband that it’s ridiculous that he can’t just fix the
stupid car! He is a MAN isn’t he? Don’t men do things like that? We argue. I say things in frustration
and get way too worked up. My temper takes over. I ruin the next
hour, banging cupboards around and wondering what the heck we’re going to do
now and how on earth will we get to Church?
acting like a child, I need to get to CHURCH, darn it.
figuring and pushing and throwing cars in neutral and neighbors shoving rolling metal down the street, we manage to start our own car and
keep it going long enough to chug into the Church parking lot. That, friends, is a
miracle in itself.
and sip hot coffee, brow still furrowed. Our pastor starts to speak. He has an update from a missionary in our church
serving in Haiti.
(who serves endlessly and feeds nearly one hundred children every
night) found a man laying limp on the side of road.
Thinking he was dead, Maurice went over to search for vital signs.
There was a faint hear beat so he lifted the near-death Haitian and
carried him to safety. It turns out the man was starving.
Malnourished and ill from years and years of living on the streets.
He was painfully poor, never having lived in a home his whole life.
Maurice had little to give, but offered that he could stay in the
generator shed and hung him a hammock and gave him food. The Haitian
was overjoyed – completely overtaken with gratefulness because he
had never in his whole life slept under a roof.
in this church, my stomach in knots over a car and I hear this and
my heart wrenches. Instantly, I start to shake and the tears flow
like wicked rivers. This man doesn’t even know what it’s like to sleep under shelter, he was near death because he literally had no food, and I stomp around and lose it over a tiny frustration like a car not starting.
whine about what I do have. I throw a tantrum because a car won’t
go and I blame my husband for something that is completely out of
anyone’s control. I scream over spilled milk when some people don’t
even have water.
frantically wipe tears from my cheeks. It’s not about me, this life.
This world does not revolve around me. I ought to grow up and
realize, if all I have to worry about is a broken-down car in a
life of plenty, I’m on easy street. EASY street.
in the feeling for a while and remind myself of all the friends I
have who have been through the mire and the muck of life so dark it’s almost unbelievable. The child we lost only half a year ago because we just couldn’t save him out of the bitter results of poverty. The women who fight every night not to be raped in their shanty homes. The precious couple who fight for their lives to care for as many orphans as they can despite their own lack. I remember them and I want to whip my own back for my selfish, evil heart. Whip so I’ll see the scars and remember how blessed I am. For once, actually remember and let it change me completely to the core.
progress, and I am speaking to you now… change these
ways… walk towards me… find peace and truth… don’t be afraid to
be painfully aware of your sins and then radically aware of the grace
poured onto you…
and into the light. It’s about character modification. Oh, boy, do
I need a LOT of modifying. And to want to change, we have to realize how much we need changing. Because we truly are called out of
ignorance. The ignorance of:
my stresses… a broken down car, a stressful afternoon, a hard time
with the kids…I’m tired, I work hard. I deserve more than this!”
Humble yourself. Stop. Be grateful. Grow up. Look around you at
all you have, you child. Stop pouting and stomping your feet and gaze
upward and praise God for your everything. Your clothing. Your
food. Your health. Your home – yes, a roof is always and has
always been over my spoiled head. And, yes, even the stupid car. Praise God for that too.
all situations. I do believe this. When we realize we are the lucky ones, and we are moved to do something about it. Our hearts need to be ripped clear open for the things of God. Otherwise, we ought to ask ourselves quite honestly if we truly are in Christ.
realize that while we bang hands on a steering wheel of a broken car,
another woman is sleeping in the dirt with her dying child. While we
compain we don’t like the paint color, an old man sleeps in a tiny shed
and praises God for the only home he’s ever known. While we whine that we
don’t like our food, a child sits emaciated because he hasn’t eaten
in three days. And oh yes, his mother mixes dirt with pond water to fill his three-year-old belly. And Mom, when we think we don’t like our plight in life,
another Mom (just like us, only in rural Uganda) struggles alone in the slums with 8 children to care for and
nothing but a cup of water to offer them.
flame to ignorant, selfish ways, yes purify ourselves in the Refiner’s
fire. And it burns some days. Because our lives are so much more tainted than we want to believe. But it’s a beautiful, soul burn. And
tears are good rain for a growing heart. Sorrow is okay, friends.
We are called to wail and moan and cry out because of our sins.
deep and how wide is the grace Christ Jesus pours on us. It’s not about beating ourselves up and sitting long and hard in that wallowing feeling. It’s about allowing ourselves to sit there just long enough that our eyes are wide open and and our heads are bowed low in submission to the One who gives true life.
“He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
Through his bruises we get healed.
We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost.
We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way.
And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong,
on him, on him.”
If Christ took the punishment to make us whole, then without Him, we are in pieces.
And if through His bruises we get healed, we are sick.
We need healing and we need forgiveness and we need grace like a baby needs her Mother and we need God to step into the messed up places and offer us hope and life and a reason to believe He can change broken people and make them brand new. Because that’s the business He’s in.
So, Christ takes all our whiny, spoiled rotten days and He whispers in heart song that His grace is enough to heal us. And He loves us enough to let us know how broken we really are. How in need of transformation we are.
When I sit in the realization that I’m a brat who needs some good discipline, I am open to change. I’m reminded again that His power is made perfect in my weakness. It’s okay to be weak. As long as with weakness comes a humble clinging to His robe, and a bold renewing of mind and heart. A renewing that makes us radically alive in the things of Christ and more motivated than ever to live our life well.
Open my eyes wide, Lord, to my selfishness.
Change my spoiled heart and make it new.
Burden me for the things that break Your heart
and infuse me with compassion for those in need.
A compassion that actually moves me.
Show me daily how to live thankful and aware of all I have.
Then show me, Father, how to pour all of me out for Your sake…
and thank You, thank You, thank You for grace.
Grace so undeserved, but so freely poured out.
Wash me white as the snowy hills and make my paths straight.