I forgot my wallet.
Left it in my wife’s car the night before when we’d all driven together. And then I was in a rush. And in a lurch. I had a lunch appointment. Downtown, replete as it is with endless array of parking meters. No grace-based parking permitted.
The lunch, well, I thought I’d get one of the kind folks I was meeting to help pay for that, and I would pick them up next time, but what about parking? You pay with credit cards now to get that flimsy dashboard certificate to prove your worthiness to occupy a narrow spot on Broad street.
“Oh, I’ll just go to the bank,” thought I.
Whirled in to the parking lot on two wheels, and was walloped with the realization that I’d need an ATM card, or even an ID to cash a check. I had both of those things. Only they were in my wife’s car, but we’ve already crossed that terrain.
So I did the best General Lee-less Bo and Luke Duke impression I could muster to get out of the bank parking lot which, in my ID-less condition, was as useless as a VCR to me.
No Grace-Based Parking Permitted
As I raced down Broad, where all the self-righteous cars were so smartly parked, smug in their car-satisfaction, settled into their properly paid spaces by drivers who had remembered their wallets, I offered a prayer which is re-configured here in approximate terms as the furious pace and minor uncertainty of the moment prohibits a verbatim recollection:
Lord, help me to know what to do. You are going to have to provide me with a parking space. I don’t know how I will find a place to park with no money. Please provide me a space to park!
About 45 seconds later, I spied a handsome spot that called to me. Astonishingly near where I was going. It was as if Christ himself was invisibly reserving the spot I’d requested. At 11:37 on a Wednesday. Rather surprisingly and certainly, un-customarily near my destination.
Visiting Must Stop and Penalties Shall Begin
I’d at least be able to run in to bum some quarters or a credit card to secure a mandatory compliance certificate for my car. I got out, dashed to the other side of my elegant black chariot, to find one of the coin-operated, slender meters of old. No aluminum-y, rectangular, wi-fi’ed, credit-card-demanding, parking registrar here. Just a solitary green metal pole with a football shaped head, and a tiny display that warns when your visiting must stop and your penalties begin.
And there, on the meter’s diminutive screen stood the most gorgeous colon and numeric digit ensemble I’d ever gazed upon.
54 Minutes. Nearly one-hour. Paid for by another. Supplied in answer to my desperate prayer. Ready for me to appropriate as my own spot right in my own fleeting moment of need. (Sound theologically familiar?)
I was overjoyed. I told the two men I was meeting for lunch. I couldn’t but herald God’s tiny but stupendous provision in such a timely way.
How Else Would You Find a Parking Spot?
It reminded me of Paul Miller’s anecdote in A Praying Life where his mother, Rose Marie, was told that a spiritual guru in a book on prayer said it was selfish and unspiritual to pray for trivial things like parking spaces. Undeterred, this grandmother replied with bewilderment, “How else would you find a parking place?”
For her, whether traipsing through the slums of Kenya doing ministry, or looking for a spot to park in London or Philly, God’s personal attentiveness was her mainstay. Her go-to.
I find that all the time as well.
For I, like you, don’t only pray for parking spaces. But if I didn’t think God was interested in something as inconsequential as that, how could I imagine he’d be interactive or interested in much else? Like you, I’ve seen him re-make gloomy hearts (like my own), liberate from destructive self-preoccupation (ditto), heal the sick (uh-uh), change minds (yup), provide everything from forgiveness to reconciliations, to provisions, and even to well, parking spaces (check, check, check, and check).
You and I are invited to help our King run the universe. It’s part of being made in the image of God. We’re made to adopt his ways, his concerns, and his heart for the sad things which seem too crushingly true; for the annoying things that are derailing us and others; for what needs to be, but is not yet.
An Invitation for Forming the Future
He invites us. He dignifies us by giving us a stake in the future that is not yet here.
God has given such uncanny dignity to us that he lets us collaborate with him in forming the future BOTH through our asking in prayer and our daily work in the world.
Lots of the world’s unwellness has not yet been altered. So there is prayer to do and work to do as well. For you, me, and for Jesus who has told us “that we can ask for ANYTHING in HIS NAME and he will do it.”
I’m eager to see His promised meddling and renovation in all manner of endeavors.
So I aim to keep at this enlivening business of asking.
Eric Youngblood is the senior pastor at Rock Creek Fellowship (PCA) on Lookout Mountain. Please feel free to contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @GEricYoungblood.