excerpt from an email I sent to the congregation at New Church Sherman Oaks,
After filling my car with day-old bread and bagels from Panera (for Bagel Brigade - the group I volunteer with to help feed the hungry and homeless), I went to start the engine. But nothing happened. Nada with the first try. Nada with second or third try. And a prayer and a few more cranks of the key to nothing but silence, I knocked on the window of a man who had been too hungry to wait to eat his dinner at home. Shoveling the last bite of his sandwich, he agreed to help.
His name was Solomon. I asked him for a jump, which he kindly did. After charging the battery for a few minutes, I turned the key again. And again, nothing. We hit a few things with an adjustable wrench that I had in my car, but that didn’t produce anything more than frustration.
So I called AAA, and in less than 15 minutes, Raphael shows up and gives my battery a good charge. When I go to turn over the engine I notice the radio will turn on! Progress. But when I turn the key all the way, we are back to where we began. Dead battery. Dead starter. I need a tow truck. So I call AAA again to get a tow truck, and spend the next hour waiting in a car filled with bread when all I want is a drink of water.
To pass the time I listen to the Daily Prayer and Meditation from my Pray As You Go app on my phone. Ironically the passage is from John’s gospel…”I am the bread of life!” I got a little chuckle. God has a funny way of getting my attention. Me stuck in a dark parking lot with a vehicle filled with bread. I was dying of thirst as I hear the words of Jesus who says, “anyone who comes to me will not hunger or thirst.”
That should have been a sign for me, don’t you think!? But instead of sitting in this predicament I opened up my Bible app and listened to the daily devotional that I had skipped over earlier. It began, “Navigating the storms of life…!” I couldn’t have made this up. God was obviously trying to say something to me.
I powered down my phone and began to talk to God in the passenger seat. We had a lovely heart-to-heart talk about all the stuff that I had been stewing over, and worrying about. When I looked at the clock on my phone, I noticed an hour had gone by and the tow truck never came.
So, instead of asking God for another sign, I called AAA again. Apparently the last dispatcher never processed my order. (hummm….Did God have something to do with that?) They put in a “rush” order. And another hour later, Jorge shows up in big flatbed tow truck.
When I explain to him all that had happened over the last two and half hours, he went to his truck to retrieve a hammer. He then crawled under my truck and began to bang on something…and yelling “Turn the key! Turn the key!” And wouldn’t you know it, it started right up as if nothing was wrong. I drove my Xterra to my mechanics and hit the sack around 1:30 am.
Was God messing with me? I don’t know. Was God stopping me to have a talk? Perhaps. What I know is this, it took a few angels to wake me from the headspace I was in so I could not only talk to God, but to also listen to God speak softly to me in the silence of the night.
First came Solomon whose wisdom helped me understand what was going on. Then came Raphael, the Archangel of AAA delivered the news that my car was needing something greater than he could offer. And finally, Jorge…who God sent to save me. It makes me think my blog should be renamed: Jesus Not Jorge! In all seriousness, God makes himself known in many different ways.
I am reading a book by Greg Boyle (author of Tattoos on the Heart) called Barking at the Choir in where he is talking about losing faith and addressing God’s presence or absence in our lives. He said, “I don’t need God in control of my life, I need God at the center of my life.” I hope you take a moment to ask yourself. "How has God been at the center of my life today?” And I pray the answer will come in a very adventurous way.
As I breathed in the fresh smell of bread, as my tongue sought to be quenched, and as I sat in total darkness…I can honestly say God was, and still is, at the center of my life.
Now, if God will help me find $1,100 to pay the mechanic!
An ex-copywriter turned punk rock pastor and peacemaker who dedicates his life to making the world a better place for all humanity.
"that they all might be one" ~John 17:21
“Prius vita quam doctrina.”
~ St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
* “Life is more important than doctrine.”