So I had one of those days today. 8 hours of leadership meetings in Cleveland starting at 10am, meant that I had to leave home by 6am. I’m not really a morning person, so that’s strike 1. The drive in my trusty 1993 Jeep Wrangler (topless) was actually somewhat enjoyable. I listened to worship music on my ipod and enjoyed the fog-shrouded hills of PA…until about 9:27am. I felt the engine lurch and hiccup a bit — my first thought was…”oh crud I’m out of gas.” Moments later, my second thought was, “oh crud, my first thought was right.” Strike 2.
Now I’ve thought about this a bit, but there is simply no way to tell this story without looking foolish. Yep I ran out of gas. Yep I have a gas gauge — although in my defense when it reads 1/4 full it’s actually empty. (Yes I’ve known that fact since the first time I ran out of gas in my Jeep but that’s beside the point.) If you know me, you know that this is not the first time I’ve run out of gas. Let’s see. I’ve run out of gas in the winter at Harvest Fields. Once I ran out of gas and coasted into the gas station in Boalsburg, and then I ran out of gas once in the turning lane in front of the Uni-Mart near Facia Luna. Honestly, I could keep going.
I think the people at AAA have my number on speed-dial.
After waiting 90 minutes, in the sun, in my topless Jeep, the AAA truck stopped and I got my gas. I filled up at the next service plaza…8.7 miles from where I ran out of gas. Then I missed my exit off the turnpike, went 17 miles out of my way and ended up 105 minutes late for the start of my meetings. Strike 3 — or am I on Strike 4 now?
The meetings ended at 6pm. I walked out of the conference center to go home and as I walked out the door, I thought, “Hhmm, I wonder if I remembered to shut the lights off — remember the ‘fog-shrouded hills of PA’?” Can you guess the answer to my question? That’s right, no I didn’t shut off my lights, yes my battery was dead. Luckily — yes that word is ironic for the context — I had jumper cables with me.
So here’s the question that slithered it’s way into my mind… “Why God?”
God could’ve prevented every annoyance I suffered today. Easily. I know, the problems I faced — in the storms of life’s pains and tragedies — were minor puddles. Barely get your shoes wet puddles. But it would’ve taken zero spiritual energy for God to redirect my steps. He could’ve brought to my mind one of those many times I ran out of gas — just as I was nearing the sign for a service plaza. H could’ve produced a miraculous extra gallon of gas to save the day. But no. Why?
Perhaps because my comfort is not God’s primary concern. Perhaps He values my character over my comfort, which means the opportunity to learn humility and practice patience was of value.
Perhaps wisdom comes from learning — over and over again — that actions have consequences, and while we can choose our actions we cannot choose the consequences of our actions. Like my kids need to learn this lesson, so do I.
Perhaps it’s because God will not be the genie in my bottle, there to grant my every wish.
Perhaps God has a sense of humor and it makes Him smile, when I run out of gas — just like it makes you smile.
Not sure, but I’m guessing that I’m not done…making Him smile. Meanwhile if you ever see me walking along the road with a red plastic jug in my hand, you know why. By the way, driving between Phillipsburg and State College on 322 at 10pm, the stars were amazing. I didn’t ask God why He did that. I just said thank you.