There is a sinking feeling in your stomach when you try to start your car, one that was running just fine 15 minutes before, and all you hear is a click…click….click… No sound of the engine turning over, no blowing of the heat, no music from the radio. Just silence. And a click, click, click.
Vehicle problems are the bane of our existence. And when you only have one vehicle on which you rely, well, it definitely makes things even more interesting.
My husband drove to church this morning, came home, grabbed the kiddos to get them to their rehearsal for the next church service and came back home. During the mile of traveling, the speedometer went wonky, so he looked online how to fix it. A few minutes of tinkering, and voila! Speedometer back to normal. Great job, honey!
But, wait! Why won’t the car start now?? oh, crap….what did you do??
Cursing, muttering under my breath, and generally unhappy, I call a friend to give us a ride back to church, so that we can join our children there. The husband finds a neighbor to give him a jump start, hoping that will do the trick and he can run to the nearest supercenter and buy a new battery.
Jumper cables on. Nothing. A few minutes go by. Nothing.
We head off to church, catching a ride from friends. I can’t say how my husband was feeling, but I was in a general state of…well, grumpiness would be an understatement. It was children’s day in church, and the kids put on the entire service, with the exception of the sermon and a bit of the communion liturgy. What should have been a joyous celebration of the fact that our children were not only involved, but finding joy in serving and being an integral part of worship, was stifled by my worry over our silly car, and the expense it will bring. My mind wouldn’t focus on the message, and the frustration spilled over.
And it is just a silly car. And just money. Yes, we live with pretty limited funds, but we are so rich compared to so many. I can lose perspective of that so quickly, when one of life’s hiccups happen. It stresses me out, and my faith is tested, even in these little things.
And I am ashamed of that fact. I am ashamed that my faith wavers, even slightly, during these times of minor inconveniences. I am ashamed that my attitude doesn’t resemble anything Christ-like, and my mind and thoughts run foul. I am convicted of this as I think about those with real trials, real challenges in their lives. My life gets derailed by a minor inconvenience…how would I handle a real tragedy? Would bitterness and anger overwhelm me and poison those around me?
I am struck hard as I receive another e-mail, convicted anew as I realize how trivial my problems are compared to those around me. A family in our community just lost an infant daughter, a sweet girl whose body was born broken, and whose time in this earthly realm was far too short. How can I bemoan the inconveniences of a car problem when there are those, just down the street from me, whose entire lives have been wracked in pain and suffering over the past few weeks? How selfish can I be? As I read through the e-mail planning lunch for after the baby’s funeral, I am wracked with guilt over being so self-absorbed and selfish.
I am finishing this post the day after the baby’s funeral. I have never witnessed anything quite as heart-wrenching as seeing this tiny girl’s body in a tiny little coffin. There is something….wrong….about the fact that coffins exist in that size, that they make them in child and infant size. This was the first time I have attended a funeral for an infant or child, and it was hard. It just isn’t right, isn’t fair, and I was…I am…. overwhelmed by the senselessness of it all.
But, in the midst of it, I was overcome by the grace and faith that this family has in their Savior, knowing full well they will see their sweet baby on the other side of the veil, faithful in the fact that her three short weeks of life were a miracle and a testimony of love. Oh, to be in the midst of such a strong faith in the midst of mourning was amazing to behold. As her father spoke about the miracle that her life was, my soul cried out in worship and praise, grateful for the faith that the family can lean in to and be comforted by, and thankful for their hearts that believe in the Resurrection and the hope it brings.
And I can’t help but wonder, how would I react? Would I be able to be such a powerful witness to the miracle and life found in Christ in the midst of mourning, or would my reaction be the exact opposite? As I look at how I reacted to the inconvenience of a dead car battery, how could I possibly think that I would exude faith and grace in a time of tragedy?
I can’t help think but this is just one more way that God is forming me, shaping me, giving me an awareness of where I need to grow, where I need to work on myself. The journey of formation is a never-ending one, and every moment, every situation, is an invitation to connect with the Creator. As I continue to grow in awareness of my shortcomings and failings, I also grow in an awareness that I do not have to continue to live into those shortcomings and failings. Instead, I am afforded the opportunity to change, to be molded and shaped, to grow in faith and thanksgiving, to love more fully and deeply, and to allow myself to be open to how the Lord is working in powerful ways in my life.
Whether it be the minor inconveniences of the world, or the tragedies that wound one’s soul deeply, I pray that God continues to invite me to grow in the midst of them, that in His gentle and loving way, He continues to invite me to be formed and transformed.
And the click…click….clicks of the world will not wreck me.