A typical Thanksgiving tradition involves each person around the dinner table telling everyone what they are thankful for. I wanted to share what I was thankful for yesterday: God’s grace. Last night, I received another confirmation that God lavishes this undeserved grace upon those whom He loves.
I want to prefix this story with a key idea that will help you understand why this all happened. You see, I’m a laughably forgetful person. I misplace almost everything. My keys and wallet are never where I leave them. My cell phone routintely vanishes – always at the least convenient time, of course. If my own nose weren’t attached, I know I would set it down somewhere and not see it again for weeks. This is the kind of person I am. Fortunately, as I will soon show you, God meets me even here.
After spending the entire part of Thanksgiving Day with friends of the family, my wife and I were ready to make our way home. We were exhausted, but full from the delights of the day. The drive north from Burien to Lynnwood, roughly about forty miles in length, was going to be uneventful and likely a bit dull. The trip on Interstate-5 would take us through the bustling Emerald City, otherwise known by its other, more common name: Seattle. (For those who are not native to Washington State, Seattle is a small city just south of Lynnwood.) With our four-year-old daughter staying behind with her God-Mother, the ride was much quieter than normal.
As the looming skyscrapers, each dotted with office lights, grew ever taller as we drew closer, my wife brought up the idea that we should very quickly stop by her sister’s place. It was on the way, so I agreed. My sister-in-law has not been in a great place financially lately, so my wife and I opted to give her my old stereo. I scarcely listened to it anymore, even for news updates. Selling it on Craigslist may have yielded a small profit, but I would rather have just given it to another person who would have appreciated the gift. The disassembled stereo was stored in the trunk.
My wife couldn’t recall precisely where her sister lived, but knew that it was somewhere near our old place. She had to call her a few times to home in the right location. My sister-in-law wasn’t home, so we were to just leave the stereo in her carport. Ironically, in a neighborhood affectionately nicknamed “Little Lebanon” by the Seattle PD because of its high crime rate, she wasn’t expecting the stereo to be promptly absconded with by an “entrepreneuring” citizen.
After driving and searching for about twenty minutes, we finally arrived at her apartment. It was a dull, dreary place that, to be honest, made my skin crawl a bit. I pulled in front of the second carport, released the trunk and stepped out. Several objects had to be removed before I could get at the stereo and the two speakers that accompanied it. When I had placed evertying in my sister-in-law’s carport, I packed everything back into the trunk and we resumed the journey home.
We arrived home at around 8:30PM. Almost as soon as we stepped through the door, my wife spoke up. She wanted to use the computer after feeding the baby. We had brought our Apple Macbook with us for the day, so it was stowed in the trunk with everything else. When I went to look for the computer, however, it didn’t turn up in the trunk. Not letting myself panic, I searched the car, thinking that maybe I had put it in there instead. Still missing. At this point, panic did start to well up within me. I ran back into the apartment and didn’t see it there either. Slowly the truth sunk in, which I then had to convey to my wife: I had left our two-thousand dollar computer in a not-so-friendly parking lot.
Wide eyed, both of us made a dash for the car, baby in tow. We were both praying that the computer had not only not been run over, but that it wasn’t stolen. We somehow managed to make almost every light, and traffic on I-5 South was brisk. Over the course of the twenty minute drive, I eventually realized that if God allowed the computer to be taken from us, He would be good to do so. If in His sovereignty, God decided that we no longer needed this computer, I knew that I would be okay with it. We may have not been able to afford another one, but what would we have lost but just a machine, a temporal and ultimately meaningless thing of the world?
As we crossed the border into Little Lebanon, both my wife and I had submitted ourselves to God’s will. We knew that whatever He had planned for this distressing event, it would be for our good. Romans 5:28 is often cited, but that in no way negates the absolute truth therein.
At last we came to the apartment where I thought I had left the computer. As I rounded the corner of the building, a flood of relief washed over me as I saw a flat, black, bag lying on the asphalt. I think I may have pulled the parking brake while the car was still moving. I wanted to stop that close to the machine. As I flew out of my car, I hastily moved over to inspect the bag. Was it broken? Would I open it only to find a thousand shards of my former computer? To my immediate comfort, the computer was not only intact, but still powered on!
Climbing back into the car, I handed my wife the fully functional computer. Almost without delay, we were both overwhelmed with God’s completely unmerited kindess. Somehow, He had not only prevented the computer from being stolen in one of the worst areas in northern Seattle, but also He didn’t allow another car to drive over it. What’s more, He didn’t allow me to run over it. It had gone right under the chasis instead of under my left-rear tire!
I’ve come to realize through this how undeserving a creature I am for receiving God’s kindness. I’m not just referring to the fact that He allowed us to recover our computer. The computer doesn’t have much eternal value attached to it. He’s given me eternal life! And for that, He deserves praise forever and ever.