Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Ordinary People Serving an Extraordinary God

Recently I was scheduled for a speaking event at a church in Chesapeake, VA, not too far from my birthplace of Portsmouth. I remember it was very hot with the temperatures soaring into the 90’s. The weatherman said the heat index was in the 100’s and this was just the early part of June. I could just imagine if it was this hot already what the rest of the summer was going to be like. 
When I do a speaking event I bring boxes of my books and lots of “Life is a Buffet” t-shirts to sell. Usually I have a couple of those little portable carts to stack the boxes on so I can transport them more easily without breaking my back. However, on this day, I had forgotten to put the carts into the car, which meant we had to lug the boxes into the church one at a time. Thankfully I had a friend of mine volunteer to come along and help out. Her name is Joyceanne. I was so glad she was there to help because the boxes are big and awkward to carry. She also helped to unpack the boxes and displayed all of the items beautifully on the table. She was a godsend. 
Once everything was inside the rest of the event went very well. We had a lovely lunch and door prizes were given out to some of the lucky women with the right ticket number and then I spoke. I spoke to the ladies about “God wants to use your ordinary life.” I love talking about this subject because so many of us fail to understand that God wants to use our everyday lives, right where we are, just as we are to do extraordinary things. We often believe that we have to be extraordinary on our own first, to impress God, and then He becomes our friend and chooses to use us to do this work. This couldn’t be further from the truth. 
After I spoke we had cake and then the ladies came over to the table to buy books, t-shirts and to chat. I get to meet some wonderful people doing this type of events. It’s always encouraging when someone walks up to me and says, “You spoke right to me today. I needed to hear every word that you said. Thank you.” That’s when I realize God is involved in each thing we do. If we are obedient to follow His lead, we will encounter supernatural things just by doing something natural and ordinary. 
After the meeting we packed the boxes back into the car and took off toward home. Just before we were about to enter the interstate lane I heard a “ding ding” sound in the car. Now I usually hear that “ding” sound when I’m low on gas. I’ve become very familiar with this sound, which I promptly ignore until the “ding ding” turns into a frantic “ding ding ding ding.” But I had gas so I knew that wasn’t the source for the “ding.” 
As I glanced at my dashboard I could see the symbol for the temperature gauge was lit up. The arrow for the temperature level of the car was on “H” for high. This was not good news. 
“What’s the matter?” Robbie asked nonchalantly. “Need gas?” She had heard this “ding ding” sound many times before too. 

“No,” I answered with a panic in my voice. “I have gas. This says the car is running hot.”
“What?” Robbie asked. “Are you sure it’s not out of gas?”
“I’m sure,” I replied. “I have a lots of gas. The needle on the temperature gauge says it’s hot! We’ve got to get off the interstate and park this car right away!” 
I promptly left the interstate and headed for the next exit not knowing where I was headed. Not too much further down the road we saw a gas station so I quickly pulled in and stopped the car. Of course it wasn’t a full-service station. It was more like a mini mart that happened to sell gas instead of an actual full-service station. Steam was pouring from under the hood of the car. I didn’t know what to do. 
I decided to try to pop the hood of the car open hoping that would help to cool off the engine, but there was so much steam I was afraid I would burn my hands trying to open the hood. I grabbed a pile of napkins from the car and started fishing under the hood for the lever to open it. Now I’ve opened the hood of my car many times, but because I was nervous about the heat pouring from the engine I was having trouble finding the lever. 
Just then a car pulled up and two guys hopped out. One of the guys immediately came running over to the car. He made me a bit nervous because he had very long hair, a few teeth missing and a t-shirt that said, “Your girlfriend wants me.” I wasn’t exactly sure I wanted him near my car. 
“It’s okay,” I said with a smile. “I’m just trying to open the hood. I know how to do it.”
“Better let me do that ma’am,” he said. 
With that he popped the hood up with ease and started to reach for the radiator cap.
“Be careful!” I shouted. “That thing could gush out all over you!” I didn’t know a lot about cars but I knew enough not to try and open a hot radiator cap.
“It’s okay ma’am,” he said very seriously. “I’m a mechanic. I know what I’m doing.”
“Oh, alright then,” I said backing away to a safe distance.
He opened the cap enough to allow more steam to billow out. Then once he got the cap off, black water started bubbling out of the radiator onto the ground. It wasn’t a pretty sight, but the guy seemed very confident about what he was doing. I began to feel glad that he was there. He quickly grabbed a bucket and filled it with water. Then he began pouring it into the radiator. But the radiator didn’t want the water. It immediately began spewing the water back out and onto the ground. 
“I think you have a blown gasket or a vent is stuck open,” the man said shaking his head. “How far do you have to drive this car ma'am?"

“We’re about 30 miles from home,” I replied. “Do you think it’s safe to drive?”

“I wouldn’t drive it that far,” he answered. “You might make matters worse than they already are and this car will probably leave you sitting on the side of the interstate.”
“Ugh,” I groaned. Now what were we supposed to do? 
The man apologized that he couldn’t do more, but I was very grateful he was able to get the radiator cap off and advise me not to drive it any further. He left with his friend wishing us the best of luck. 
It was then I realized I had no choice but to call “AAA” and get the car towed by to my house. At least we were inside an air-conditioned store attached to the station instead of sitting along side of the interstate in the blazing heat. The lady on the phone said she would send someone right out, but that the tow truck would only be able to carry two passengers in the truck and not all three of us. 
“It looks like we’re going to have to call a cab to take us all home,” I said to the girls. “The tow truck can only take two people in the truck.”
“What if we sit on each other’s laps?” Joyceanne asked frantically. 
“I already suggested that, but they said it’s against the law,” I answered.
So we’ll have to wait for the tow truck to come and get the car and then call a cab. I asked the lady at the counter for a phone book so I could look up a cab company. We were out in the middle of nowhere and I wasn’t sure how long it was going to take for a cab to get out to us. Our heads dropped. This was turning out to be a long, long day. 
About a half hour later we saw a tow truck pulling into the station. I waved my arms and pointed in the direction of the car. He waved back and pulled up near where the car was parked. As he hopped out of the truck he said, “Hey why don’t you ladies hop into my truck while I load up your car. I have the air on and there’s plenty of room.”
"There's three of us. Can you take us all?" I asked.

"Sure, no problem," he answered. 

At that moment I wanted to plant a big wet messy kiss right on his beautiful lips that had spoken those words. He looked like an angel if an angel were to show up wearing a tow truck shirt with khaki pants. But instead I just smiled, thanked him and motioned for the happy ladies to get into the truck. 
When I opened the door to get in there was a big backseat. Joyceanne and I had quietly voted to leave Robbie to have to sit scrunched up against the tow truck driver, but that wasn’t going to be necessary at all. The backseat was long and there was a separate bucket seat up front for the third person. We were so relieved. 
The driver was so friendly and nice. I just put my head back and breathed a sigh of relief. It took us a while to drive the 30 miles back home because tow trucks carrying a car can only go so fast, but I didn’t complain. 

Robbie was in the front seat and struck up a conversation with the driver as only Robbie can do. Turns out he was divorced and had a little seven year old daughter. He was working two jobs to make ends meet but was thankful to even have the jobs in the poor economic conditions of the time. 
Robbie mentioned we were born in Portsmouth, but moved to Virginia Beach to be near our church, Wave Church. The man responded that he knew of Wave Church and had actually attended services there. He had heard of our pastor, Steve Kelly. He liked the church, but when he had to take on the second job he had to work on Sundays and was no longer able to attend church services. “I miss it,” he said quietly. 
When we finally arrived safe and sound back home with the car parked in the driveway I thanked the man for being our angel for that day. 
“It was nothing,” he said. “It’s what I do.”
“Well it was important to us,” I replied shaking his hand. “You rescued us today.”
Robbie walked out at that time and boldly put her arm around the man’s waist. That’s Robbie. She just goes right in for the kill. I so admire her for this. 
“You need to make sure you get back into church,” she said staring directly into the man’s eyes. “You have a daughter depending on you and you need to do whatever it takes to get back into church and raise her the right way.”
“You’re so right,” the man replied. “I do need to get back into church. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately.”
“Don’t put it off,” Robbie said with a very serious look on her face. “Do it right away.”
The man stared back at her as if to say, “Thank you for that.” He shook his head and smiled as he walked back to his truck. We stood together and watched him drive away. He waved out of the window.
“I think you really spoke right into his life the words he needed to hear today,” I said to Robbie.
Robbie just smiled that smile of hers as if to say, “It wasn’t me. It was the Holy Spirit speaking. I’m just the mouth piece.”
After I got changed into some comfortable clothes and was sitting on the sofa having a glass of ice water I went back over the days’ events. I had not planned on having my car towed back to the house that day but as I thought some more I realized something. God had been in every aspect of my day. He was in the carrying in of the boxes because 
Joyceanne was there to help us. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
He had used my words to speak directly into the life of a woman at the event that needed to hear from God. “For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.” Luke 21:15.

The “ding ding” signal warned us just in time to keep off the interstate and to get the car to a safe place to stop. “‘If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,’ says God, ‘I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust me.’”

As I began to think some more I remembered when the car ran hot and the two men who just appeared and came over to help us right away. They had pulled into the station right behind us, but I didn’t see them do anything special at the store. I did see one of them buying a soda or something insignificant like that. It was if they had pulled in just to help us and then they left. “When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it-quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way our God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.” Matthew 6:3-4.

In addition, we were able to wait inside an air-conditioned store rather than be stranded along side a busy interstate on the hottest day of the year. “Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left-feeling abandoned, bereft. No, don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.” John 14:27.
Then the tow truck driver shows up at the station with this huge truck. I felt like we had been rescued. The backseat was big enough to carry six people comfortably. He was very nice and he got us home safe and sound. “And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing.”  2 Corinthians 1:10.
I recalled Robbie putting her arm around the driver’s waist and speaking those words of wisdom to him with so much heart and warmth. He nodded recognizing that she was speaking the truth and he knew he had to make some changes. “But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way fruit appears in an orchard-things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity.” Galatians 5:22.
It had been a very ordinary day in a way. But God had used each of the events to do some extraordinary things. He opened my eyes to the kindness of strangers and how much He cares for even the little things in our lives. He’s not just in the miraculous and supernatural events, but He is just as much a part of the everyday ordinary routines in our daily lives. 
God uses each of us, right where we are, in whatever we are doing, to minister to others. We are all ministers of the gospel through our everyday lives and through our attitudes toward others. “Through Christians like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels!” Ephesians 3:10.
Why are you standing still, waiting for something extraordinary to happen? Live your life with compassion, mercy and grace in everything you do, knowing God is interested in the smallest thing to the biggest event in your life, and you will see God take the ordinary and do something extraordinary with it. We are just ordinary people, but we are serving an extraordinary God. That makes all the difference in the world.

No comments:

Post a Comment