Saturday, February 9, 2008

My Protector - He's at it again!

The pesky noises plaguing my car for the past several months finally culminated in a grind-grind-clunk double-twist combo last weekend. The effect, as I flipped the first U-ie to park in front of the house, sent percussive breaths shooting from my lungs. A second U-ie confirmed the clunk and drained every bit of confidence I had taken away after the previous week's oil change. "There's nothing to worry about," the garage manager assured me. "We heard nothing out of place."

But there I was — out of place and out of sorts. 

So I pulled up to the curb, cranked back the brake, and sat. The opposing silence created plenty of space for me to consider an appropriate response. I considered some more — and, yes, cried just a little — before emerging to inspect the street for any clunky, fallen engine parts. When I found nothing, I simply walked into the house, put away my groceries, and went on with my much-anticipated, quiet evening. What else could I do on a Saturday night? 

Funny, isn't it, how ignoring a half ton, broken down vehicle can make it disappear — or at least sit, undistinguished, in the background. 

After more than two days of denial passed, I finally braved the drive back to the garage. A quick turn of the ignition sobered the manager's otherwise cheery outlook. "This isn't good," he uttered, his head turning my direction from under the hood. Hmmm . . . not a pleasant way to begin a conversation. It turns out that a pulley broke clean off from the crank shaft, leaving the belt to waggle and the gadgets to sputter! 

I sputtered too. My bank account cannot afford such nonsense! The manager, seeing and feeling my pain, began to call associates to track down parts, ahead of giving me a preliminary estimate. The result? Around $340. With screaming out of the question, I went about the business of fussing, trying desperately to anticipate whether I should take the car home, borrow a friend's car, and leave the cash in my account for "such time as it would be needed for something more important." In my old manner, I wanted to see what only God can see: the future!

A couple of phone calls later, and a reminder from the manager that my car wasn't driveable, I indicated the go-ahead with a less than enthusiastic thumbs up. "Take care of what's in front of you," I kept telling myself. "Worry about what's to come when it comes." Easy to say, but walking the way seemed beyond my ability. . . . 

And, that's when I began to recognize the long armed anticipation of the One who promises to Protect. It hit me smack dab in the middle of my mess. In a few weeks, I'll be driving across the state to teach at the Florida Christian Writer's Conference. Not a terribly long drive, but what if that pulley had held on, lulling me into a false sense of security until — BAM! It snapped somewhere along I-4, sending me to a spinning, grinding halt with no immediate resources, suspended between Florida coasts?

What if . . . 

Those words haunt me at times, do they you? They leave me suspended — not between Florida coasts, but between heaven and earth. Between lies and Truth. The lie? I'm responsible to provide for every aspect of my life on earth.  And money's often the root of my fear for provision. In my singleness, I've tended toward self-sufficiency. Not asking for help — at times not even knowing I have need, and certainly not being able to name the need so that I know what to ask for (hint: that's called denial, ya know!).

So, yay for me that I called my friend's husband to talk over my dilemma with a fellow talker — because I know I will drive myself crazy trying to internalize an answer. And then — I let him come and pick me up! I knew that something in me had shifted when I responded to a "how ARE you?" question with "God protected me today. That pulley could have broken off any time, anywhere, and left me stranded." But I have a Protector whose unfailing love I can trust — and His timing is perfect. And since, out of that perfect love, He provides for my needs today, I can trust Him to provide for the needs that arise tomorrow — when tomorrow comes.

In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall. God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. For who is God except the Lord?
Who but our God is a solid rock?
  Psalm 18:29-31 NLT

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