It started with the car taking longer to start than normal. I noticed also that when I pressed the gas pedal my “peppie” Sonata didn’t respond in the manner I was accustomed to. When the little yellow warning light appeared (something that looked like an engine) I knew it was time to return to my trusted mechanic. Since it was Sunday, it meant leaving the car in the parking lot, throwing the keys through a hole in the garage door and hoping he would be able to figure it out on Monday morning. When I called on Monday he assured that he would figure it out.
My rental was less than what I expected. The cigarette burn holes on the passenger seat should have been a hint but I am not naturally someone who sends things back and I was already late for the meeting in Kingston so I pulled away. The wipers not clearing the window didn’t help me to love the little white Toyota but even more irritating was the smell of the cleaning solution that they had used to mask the odour of a past smoker. It was not unlike the odor you sometimes encounter in an older hotel room. The second day in the rental brought snow, but no snow tires and a treacherous last couple of hours back to Peterborough caused the stress levels to rise even more.
The adventure of the two days deteriorated further when I discovered that my assumptions of a minor repair, perhaps a plugged fuel filter or something small actually turned into a $1200.00 repair. A couple of hours calmed the nerves. And so, on Wednesday afternoon I embarked on the walk to the garage to pick up my vehicle. The repair might be expensive but at least it would mean no more rental cars. On the way there, as if the day hadn’t brought enough, I managed to get sprayed by a passing car through water collecting on the side of the road and feet soaked in a mistimed jump over a puddle. All of those frustrations quickly got shoved back to the recesses of my mind when I opened my wallet to grab my credit card to settle the bill and the slit normally housing the shiny Master Card was vacant. Apparently the panic on my face was detectable as the mechanic calmly handed me the keys to my car and said “I think you might want to deal with that first, the bill can wait.” And then with a smile he added, “Besides, I know where you live.”
I have a good friend who is a cardiologist. He probably would have enjoyed taking my blood pressure at that particular moment.
I will admit that the next hour or so was not a banner one in the life of Ray Hendriks. All of the small inconveniences and issues erupted in the search for the lost card. “No we didn’t find your card sir” was the answer from the gas station and the rental place. “No we didn’t borrow your card” was the rather put-out answer from my sons (I think by this time my tone was accusatory). Finally the “We are sorry but we cannot take your call at this time” repeatedly from the credit card company raised the blood pressure to some kind of boiling point.
Then for some reason I took a deep breath and actually began to think logically. Gas station connected with receipt, receipt with envelope where I keep receipts and then finally locating the envelope, nestled comfortably among the receipts was my card, resting peacefully oblivious to the stress of the last couple of hours.
Mere hours later I was on the road again, this time in my beloved Sonata, purring along smoothly on the 401 headed west of Toronto. The car had the power I was used to, didn’t have the foul smells of the rental and the wipers actually worked. And I realized something … something I have known and experienced throughout my life: it is impossible not to sweat the small stuff, especially when the small stuff goes wrong.
Most of you will have similar stories. Life does that to us. The small stuff just continues to pile up unabatedly, one thing after another until it just seems to implode or explode.
I wish in my case I could give you the pious answer and say I stopped and prayed and then everything got answered positively, but I can’t. Since I don’t put much stock in luck, I guess the Lord just worked it out in spite of me and nudged my thoughts in the right direction. It actually is reassuring to know that His faithfulness, His providing and nurturing hand is not ultimately dependent on me to pray at just the right time or that His faithfulness is dependent on my failings or successes. He is faithful because that is His very nature. He cares for me and provides for me because He promised He would.
As if to remind me of that fact my devotional reading this morning was Psalm 147. Verse 10 says “His pleasure is not the strength of the horse, nor His delight in the legs of a man; the Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.” At the end of the week, I confess my failure, foibles and frustration, I profess once again my dependence on Him, my love for Him.
I am not sure what you face in this last week before March Break, but rest assured that in spite of our human inadequacies and foibles and stresses, He is faithful. I pray for you that as you get a chance to take a deeper breath on this well-deserved Break (a break hopefully from both the large and small stuff of your days) you will look back and see that His hand has been at work all along.