I’m going to guess that I was around six or seven. We were leaving the no-name gas station—my mom, brothers and I—when I saw a brand new brown backpack lying in the grass in the front of the station. I mentioned this to my brother. We excitedly discussed how awesome it would be to grab that bad boy and have a free backpack! Funds were tight, yes, but we also had a way of building things up until we pulsed energy strong enough to send rocket ships to the moon.
When you are six or seven, you are convinced that your mom sees and hears nothing. It’s not until your teenage years you learn that she sees and knows all. “What backpack?” she asked. I spilled out my detailed description of a brand spanking new backpack with two pockets on the front, a dusty brown color that had almost certainly never been used. She wanted to know if I was sure. By this time, we had already left the gas station and driven several minutes down the two-lane highway towards the restaurant my dad managed. I was so totally sure. Was I about to get a free backpack? Was she about to turn this car around as she so often threatened?
Sure enough, my mom turned the car around so that we could collect my free, dusty brown, two-pocketed free backpack from the ground. The whole way back mom threatened my life if there was, in fact, no backpack. We pulled into the station and I pointed to the pack. Mom got out and strolled towards it. My brother Matt and I might as well have been high on an illegal substance because the thrill of free finds just might be equally intoxicating. I looked over at my mom just in time to see her pick up my dusty colored, two-pocketed backpack to find her shaking a rusty muffler in the air at me. I sent us back to the gas station for a rusty muffler. Huh. I was really sure it was a backpack. I sunk down very low into my seat dreading the moment my mom got back into the car. Upon entering, she very graciously offered to take me in to be checked for eyeglasses.
I thought about this very thing on my drive this morning when a large crane on the side of the road magically morphed into a black tarp, as I got closer to it. Sometimes we think we want these things, we are POSITIVE we want these things. We know exactly what they are! They are a two pocketed, dusty colored backpack. But the Lord knows that they are really just a rusty old muffler and he saves us from a trip back to pick them up. How we cry and complain about the muffler, all the while we are so sure we missed out on a backpack. Maybe our backpack is called a job, a relationship, a trip, a car, an opportunity. We are so angry with him for not taking us to get that backpack. Can I tell you that he can see up close, what you could only see from far away? I know that from far away it looked really awesome, like exactly what you wanted and needed, just what you’ve been waiting for. But it’s possible that had you seen it up close, you might have found that it was really just a rusty old muffler.
You can trust the God you serve. If he didn’t stop to get it, it wasn’t for you. Leave that rusty old muffler back there, knowing that what he has before you is GOOD.
If you are still mad about some rusty old mufflers you passed up, can you release those today? God is FOR you. He loves you. You can trust the plan he has for your life!
Now, you be on the look out for backpacks on the side of the road for me while I go and get my eyes checked…
Beautiful and inspiring words!
Eyes open, first thought, I’m still tired. Next, oh well, you must keep marching on. Then, ok- I have so much to do, where do I even begin? Upon rising and brewing up hope for energy in a cup, I begin- already feeling behind. My whole day seems in the deficit. Not enough. Not enough energy, time, patience, self-control. All I see is lack. Everywhere. I hear the ‘shoulds’ in my mind. My children should know better. I should have exercised more. My house should be cleaner. Maybe I should be working. Should I wear this? Should my marriage be more? Should I serve others more? Should I have said that? I’m plagued, worn down, depleted. Day after day, the exhaustion, the frustration, just piles. I don’t even have energy to sort my piles. The piles eventually become a mountain. The mountain becomes hopelessness. How did I get here? How…
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In honor of the late A. Martin Lerner
He walks with a bit of a limp; I don’t know the origin. But his gait is one of effort and determination. His eyes alternate, studying intensely, monitoring and dancing, twinkling even. His smile is a burst of warmth and light on the coldest, darkest of nights, a hot loaf of bread to a starving man, a burst of color on a blank canvas. His demeanor is at once, protective, fierce, nurturing, precise, quirky, seasoned, wise and overcoming. And when I look at him, I see all that’s right with the world.
The first time I met him, I was opening the door to leave my urine sample in the restroom. But there he was mid stream. It’s not an ideal first encounter with one’s world renowned physician. But when he came out and said, “We have to stop meeting like this,” I knew we’d be okay.
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