Saturday, August 9, 2008

Not An Ordinary Day After All

The day started out like a typical Saturday. Roger had a meeting in a small town about 30 miles away, while I had a meeting in a nearby town. After my meeting, my daughter and two grandchildren planned to shop for school clothes. My husband was to travel another 45 miles to play with a band for a small town country music show. He would get home about midnight.

We said good-bye and each drove to our respective meetings. After the meeting, I enjoyed a leisurely meal at a local tearoom with the other group members.

I picked up my daughter and grandchildren, and we proceeded to their favorite department store. The children made their selections, tried them on, and made a final decision.

We stopped at Sonic for the half-priced 2 to 4 P.M. happy hour. We refreshed ourselves with ice cold slushies before continuing our shopping trip.

Two hours and two stores later, we had exhausted ourselves and my checkbook. I dropped them off at their house and drove fifteen miles home.

I stopped at the grocery for milk before heading home. I checked mail, let the dog out, and stopped to check phone messages.

That’s when my day became anything but routine. Three messages from my husband informed me he was broken down an hour away along a secondary country road with his cell phone battery almost gone.

It’s 100 degrees more or less. It was 6:30. He had called at 5:15 the first time. I herded the dog inside and back into her cage, grabbed my keys, and rushed out the door to the car.

I made myself drive the speed limit. I tried to call him, but only managed to say, “Where are you?” before his phone went dead.

I drove and prayed he wouldn’t dehydrate and that he had something to drink with him. An hour later I neared the small community he’d mentioned. I watched the road for a sign of him.

His car was nowhere in sight. I entered the next community realizing I hadn’t spotted him. I pulled over and tried his cell phone, even knowing it was dead. In the rearview mirror, I spotted a tow truck with his car on it. What a lucky coincidence or was it?

Earlier, he’d used the tow truck owner’s phone to tell me to meet him at the Dairy Queen, but I'd been in a dead zone so the call didn’t come through. My plan had been to go to the Dairy Queen for a restroom break before formulating a plan to hunt for him. How did we independently decide to go to the Dairy Queen?

We decided God had been looking out for us even though we didn’t know he had. I usually go with him to that particular show, but couldn’t because of his other meeting. If I had gone with him, we’d both been stranded.

The show doesn’t get over until after 10:00 so either he or both of us would have been stranded at 11:00 at night with no service on our cell phone.

If he’d been stranded alone, I would have been driving up and down dark country roads after midnight trying to find him.

In spite of our calamity and prospective car repair bill, we feel blessed at how things worked out.

It just goes to show you, just because a day starts out ordinary, doesn’t mean it will stay that way.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Forgiveness: Letting Go

In the Lord’s Prayer we say “forgive us our trespasses and we forgive those who trespass against us.” In my church we recite the Lord’s Prayer as part of the worship service.

I’ve probably said that prayer at least 500 times in my current church. I don’t know how many other times in previous churches.

I recently completed the Beth Moore study on Breaking Free. One of the bondages God releases us from if we ask is the inability to forgive.

A friend of mine is fighting cancer. She has as part of her signature for emails this statement. “We can stop forgiving others, when God stops forgiving us.” That pretty much says it all. Who can dispute it? I can’t.

Then it seemed like everything I read talked of forgiveness. Sermons seemed to focus on it. I read the book, The Shack, which spoke of the hardest forgiveness of all.

As a result of all the recent experiences, I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. Most of my problem with forgiveness started with my being angry at people who hurt me or unfair situations and injustices in my world.

Then if the anger isn’t resolved, it leads to unforgiveness, broken relationships, and isolation to protect myself from further hurt or disappointment. If that isn’t enough, bitterness sets in and takes the joy and sunshine away. It kills the song in my heart.

So after thinking a lot about it, I asked God to reveal to me when I have a spirit of bitterness, anger, or unforgiveness in my heart. I truly thought I harbored no unforgiveness, but I was in for a surprise.

He’s been very generous to call to mind those people and situations I need to let go. I expected it to be a painful experience, but it’s been liberating and left me with a sense of peace. I find myself agreeing with Him each time.

“You’re right, Lord. I’m bitter or angry or unforgiving about that. I agree with you. Help me to release it now.”

Some things I’d forgotten about. Some things I didn’t know I was bitter about. Some things were too hard to do on my own, but I know God can help me.

“Search my heart, Test my thoughts. Point out anything you find in me that makes you sad. And lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Ps. 139:23