There are some phone calls I dread. Top on the list are those that involve any kind of conflict or confrontation and the kind I made Wednesday.
“Hi honey. What are you doing?” I inquired gaily.
“Oh, working. What’s up?” James replied, completely unsuspecting.
“Are you having a good day? Are you in a pretty happy mood?” I asked with a smile on my face and butterflies in my belly.
“I guess I’m doing all right. Why?” he answered, suspicion dawning.
And the confession begins. Ten eyes watching. Ten ears listening.
That morning, car loaded with a few of my kids and several extra, I headed to Houston to see the new paleontology exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Life-size dinosaur skeletons populated a room the size of a football field, floor to ceiling. Exiting “Jurrasic Park,” we headed for the African safari. A quick lunch, and it was on to gemology, where gazillion-carat precious stones called my name! The tornado IMAX provided the perfect ending to a perfect day. We meandered through the strategically situated gift shop (located on the way to the exit), where I said no a hundred times and a hundred different ways, and made our way to the car.
Everyone loaded, I noticed a note on my windshield.
“Hmmmm. What could that be?” I wondered.
It had a person’s name and phone number and read:
“call about scratch on car”
Circling the vehicle, the events of that morning flash through my mind. We arrived to find the entire museum district crawling with school buses, cars, and droves of people. Parking was impossible! I finally found the parking garage and the perfect parking spot. The kind that inspires the hallelujah chorus! There was one of those “Compact Cars Only” signs, but those are only a suggestion, right?
“Mama, should we really park here?” my daughter questioned.
“Awww, I’m compact enough. It’ll be fine!” I confidently assured her, and every other kid as they debated the wisdom of my decision. I crept within a quarter inch of the wall, checked to be sure wasn’t hanging out more than a few inches more than the compact car next to me, and we headed for the elevators, a straight shot from the parking spot sent straight from heaven just for me!
Staring down the crunched in rear passenger bumper upon our return, the wisdom of the compact car sign dawned on me. It was for my own good! In those narrow spaces, SUVs like mine extend into the space needed to clear the turns between levels. Being that mine was the last car before the turn, it was an extra foolish parking job!
Crawling in my seat, fully aware of the folly of my ways, I came clean.
“I knew we shouldn’t have parked there!” one exclaimed.
And she was right.
Humbled, there was nothing to do but admit that I was wrong. James was exasperated, but as always, gracious. He even called the man who left the note because I was scared he would yell at me for parking where I shouldn’t.
As we drove the hour home, kids engaged in their own conversations, I thought about my sinful, rebellious heart. That’s really the bottom line. I saw a parking space. I wanted it. I ignored authority and wisdom and took it. I made it work because that’s what I wanted. Forget the museum and the fact that the garage is their property and therefore under their authority. Forget that the sign is there for a reason. For the protection of my property.
I thought about God’s word. Like the sign, there for our own good. For our protection. And yet, how many times do I ignore it because there’s something before me that will bring more immediate gratification?
Deuteronomy 6:24 explains, “'And the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day.”
Conversely, “The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways” (Proverbs 14:14). That was me making that parking space work no matter what. My way.
God’s word, His ways, His commands and statutes, are all for our good always. To preserve us alive, which in the Greek means “to sustain life, live prosperously, live forever, be restored to life and health, to revive from sickness, discouragement, faintness, death.”[i] They are an expression of His goodness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4).
Thank you, Lord, for Your goodness that leads us to repentance, even when it comes in the form of consequences for our foolish decisions. Thank You that You use the unfortunate, uncomfortable, and even tragic to lead us to repentance. It is all Your goodness, Lord. Thank You for working in us to become more wholly Yours today.
[i] Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for chayah (Strong's 2421)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2012. 10 Jun 2012. http:// www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H2421&t=NKJV.