If you read Part 1, you read a censored view behind-the-scenes of my day. No one would have known it unless I shared it. And I never would have shared it if there wasn’t a part 2. Within 24 hours, I went from being thankful for nothing to seeing how God uses everything. We pick up where my sons are dropped off at school:
*The mother of my sons calls me back about Joshua being sick and at school. She thanks the Holy Spirit for prompting her to bring medicine to the school for Joshua. She is already on her way.
*In my spent and worthless state, I remember the principle of praise anyway. I pull out the new cd that I picked up.
*I stop at a gas station, where I never stop but always pass, to buy gum. I always hope for one particular kind, but I have not found it in months. As I walk in, I consider looking to order the gum online (seriously).
*The first words of a song that play on the overhead speakers are, “I found God..” (Song “You Found Me” by The Fray).
*I scan the gum rack and…find my favorite! I buy 3 packs; 2 for me and 1 for a coworker who shares the same favorite and difficulty finding it.
*I gush to the clerk about my excitement at finding the gum. He said that he is glad they had it for me.
*I put in the new cd, Wow Gospel 2013. The first words are, “Today’s a new day, but there is no sunshine. Nothing but clouds..” (Kirk Franklin’s song “Smile,” one of my favorites. I turn it up and sing.)
*At a stoplight, I notice a scratch of sunshine in the clouds. I make a comment out loud. The song that begins to play starts like this: “I know you’re praying for a change, To see a sunny day, Nothing good has come your way for so long.” (Song “Hold On” by James Fortune)
*The song ends when I am at a stoplight. I turn it off and simply say, “Thank you.”
*As I try to turn left for work, I skid on the black ice and go past the intersection. As I try to stop at the next side street, the same thing happens. I continue on until I can turn right into a church parking lot.
*As I return the way I came, I notice three wild turkeys next to a house.
*As I pull into work, my “sister” texts, “You ok?” I respond with “I am now.”
*Following a student out of the classroom, I encounter a young man, “Frank,” becoming physically aggressive. We engage to keep him safe. He fights, kicks, curses, and spits.
*When back in the classroom, a lady from Nursing calls me out. She offers me a caramel latte that they had in the office. I’m not much for coffee, but I partake and delight in the thoughtfulness.
*I learn that a friend is incarcerated. I text an attorney friend about it. I get back, “I already have his case.”
*During lunch I found a coworker who shares my affinity for this favorite gum. She told me that I made her day.
What proceeded throughout the remainder of the day was a barrage of people crossing my path at precisely the moment that they were needed. A list that I could not even begin to write down, keep up with, or fully explain. But I could see it. I could see God moving, and weaving, and answering my question.
My question had been “What do I have to have to be thankful for?!” What God was revealing to me was that God uses everything. Everything! In ways that we cannot see nor comprehend. We can only trust and participate. The events of this day I never could have scripted, never could have planned. At the end of the day I realized that I could take credit for one thing – showing up. Everything else was a fluid, unscripted dance. That includes my encounter with “Frank” later in the day. He looked at me and smiled, saying, “I’m better now.” The same young man who tried to kick. The same young man who screamed threats and obscenities. The same young man who spit.
An hour or so after the second encounter, I was struck by this thought: I am Frank. I fight the protection God tries to give. I kick and punch against His grasp. I curse when I do not get my way. I get lost in rage against the way things should go. Then, in time, I hope God has forgotten my mess and say to Him, “I’m better now.”
As I was winding up my adventures of the day, I pulled up to my son’s youth group. I was there because he had twice forgotten his payment for a retreat. I met one of the adults who helps out and she twice told me, “Oh, we just love him!”
Do you see it? I saw two mistakes. She told me twice how he is loved. My son, who I felt inadequate to care for at the beginning of the day, must be pretty awesome. I simply told her, “I love him, too.”
I wish that I could always say that I see God’s movement in my day. If you read Part 1, you know that I don’t. At least not in the way that I did on this day. I feel as if God gave me a special glimpse, a special treat, on this day. A reminder of truth. As if to punctuate it, the song that took me home was called “Every Moment.” It speaks to God holding every moment in his hands, even the moments of finding my favorite gum.