© Copyright 2014 by Gretchen Passantino Coburn
Pat & I began today with prayer, as we usually do, but specifically today asking for God’s will, in God’s time, by God’s manner, for God’s purposes: not our own. It’s difficult for me to yield to God’s way, even though I know it’s ALWAYS the best way, but when I pray, I pray whole-heartedly. I even began my first post today affirming that God’s way is always the best way.
And then I lapsed into anxiety, anger, & stubbornness.
We were on our way to our 2nd appointment when I realized I had forgotten to get gas after our 1st appointment. We barely had time. I pulled into our “usual” station & was attacked on all sides (that’s how it felt to me) by stupid drivers with no courtesy blocking all available lanes by the pumps & boxing me in (our Ford pickup) & wasting precious time we didn’t have. I used some bad words & scolded the idiots blocking my access & egress (fortunately for them the windows were up & the air conditioner was on) as I somehow worked my way through the mess & back on the street.
On the way down the block I apologized to the Lord & to Pat for my language & prayed for the Lord to center me back into His peace & His way. At the station a block away, the gas was 10 cents a gallon more & the lanes were more mixed up & un-navigable than at the first station. So I headed for the freeway, calculating in my head how many miles we had driven since the “low fuel” light had come on, & whether we could get to our appointment without running out.
Did I mention that our 2nd appointment was with Pat’s PTSD counselor, doesn’t happen nearly often enough, & is ALWAYS a huge blessing & benefit to both of us?
Pat: You know, I don’t cuss or get angry very much anymore, & it’s not because my mouth is numb. (Our 1st appointment today was for his major dental work.)
Me: Why don’t you cuss or get angry anymore? (Feeling guilty.)
Pat: I don’t like the sound of the words coming out of my mouth or the feeling coming out of my heart. I want my words & my heart to belong to God, not the world.
Me: You’re right. I’m wrong. I’m sorry. My state doesn’t solve anything, it just makes things much worse than they should be. Lord, thank you for my husband & his example. Forgive me for my failures. Give me peace & trust in your way & your time. . . .
The truck starts sputtering in the fast lane of the freeway & I know we’re running out of gas. As I maneuver to the right lane & the upcoming exit ramp, my emotions start boiling again & I start calling myself names for failing to get gas earlier & I’m especially angry because I really, really don’t want to miss this appointment. By the time I pull off the side of the exit ramp & park safely under a tree in the shade in the wide dirt past the breakdown lane, I start in with bad words & anger again. When I pause, Pat chimes in.
Pat: You did a good job sensing the truck sputtering. You pulled over & off safely. You found a safe spot to stop, & we have shade, too. Juggling all our bills you managed to keep our Auto Club membership paid. You have your phone — & it’s charged. Thank you, Lord, for my good wife.
Me: . . . .
I called our counselor & rescheduled. I called AAA. While we were waiting I started to calm down. We could use the time constructively by praying for various needs.
Me: Do you want to pray? Who should we pray for? [I mentioned several names & situations.]
Pat: No, I just want to sit here & enjoy the Lord. I can’t listen to Him when I’m talking.
Me: . . . .
Forty-five minutes later we’re pulling into another gas station to fill up (AAA gave us 2 gallons) & it’s EXACTLY the same situation as the previous 2 stations — crazy drivers, rude interlopers, cars every which way, no pumps accessible to the side of the truck with the gas cap. My language & emotions are even more deteriorated than before. Finally I get situated cock-eyed by a pump & get out to fill the truck. It takes a long time to pump 25+ gallons. By the time the tank is full, I’ve calmed down. I’m not spiritually centered, I’m not rejoicing in God’s alternate plan, but I’m calm.
I get back in the truck & prepare to take off through the hectic maze. I look down at the steering wheel. There’s a piece of painter’s tape in the center with my husband’s Sharpie scrawl: “I (heart) u.”
It’s a little hard to drive with tears in my eyes, so I’m extra cautious, patient, & slow driving the rest of the way home. My husband goes in to take a nap before our next appointment (the critical one with the foreign government influencer). I follow him down the hall to the bedroom.
Me: I want to be a fig tree. I want to stand still & accept God’s provisions of sunshine, water, & good soil. I want to be covered with God’s clothing for me. I want to just stand there & do what fig trees do, without anxiety, effort, or fear. Just bearing God’s rich, sweet, ripe fruit in His time & His plan. I want others to feast on my fruit that came, not from my own work, but from the Lord.
So I went out back & picked a couple dozen ripe figs bursting with God’s good provision, & I ate a few standing in the sun by the tree. And this time I TRULY gave up the rest of the day to the Lord. Oh, I know I’ll fall back again, but for now, I’m a fig tree, not a weak & fearful fallen human. And a fig tree is exactly what God wants me to be in this critical meeting this afternoon. May this individual see the Lord’s fruit, eat of it, & be nourished to eternal life. Amen