So this guy is late for an appointment and he is circling the parking lot along with other drivers trolling for a place, watching for people walking to their cars, trying to anticipate their location and be there first, cursing when he isn’t. Finally he starts praying. “Oh, God, please help me find a parking place. If I am late for this appointment I will catch hell at work. Oops, heck at work. Look, if you will just help me find a parking place, I will go to church every Sunday for a month, I promise. And I’ll give a generous donation to the food bank. And I’ll ...” Just then he turns a corner and there is an empty parking spot right by the front door. “Nevermind, God, I found one.”
A corny joke, I know, but I laugh every time I hear it because it reminds me so much of me. I was asked to speak during a church service a few years ago. Sort of a what the church means to me kind of testimonial. Even though I often speak in front of people in my work, this was different. I was very nervous about speaking about my personal life, especially my spiritual life. I thought long and hard. I made lots of notes. I wrote and rewrote. I practiced and practiced again. And I prayed. I prayed more and more as the day approached and by that morning I was praying nonstop.
“Oh, God, I dedicate this speech to you. I ask you to speak through me and use me as you will. I turn this completely over to you. Whatever happens is as you will and I accept whatever you want me to do. If this is terrible, then I welcome the lesson in humility. If it is not terrible, then I give all glory to you.” And on and on like that. Putting it all on God’s shoulders took me off the hook. The moment came. I went to the pulpit and began to speak.
It went well, I could tell. And afterwards so many people came up to me to say how much they enjoyed it. Several said I should be a preacher. Seriously. And what was I thinking? Wow, I was great! Later, I was embarrassed by how quickly I took credit for success. As quickly, I’m sure, as I would have handed any failure off to God.
I love watching pro-football. Now is not the time to get into any deep analysis about why I love it. I bring it up because NFL players are amazing athletes. They train their butts off and play in all kinds of weather and ... well, they are awesome. Sometimes I see a player, after doing something that seems almost superhuman, look skyward and give a quick thumbs up to God. Or maybe it’s a quick thumbs up to Grandma. Or who knows. But it is an acknowledgment of gratitude, a recognition that we all get help along the way.
We get by with a little help from our friends. And from God. Thanks.
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